Tuesday, December 13, 2011


These words are from one of our wounded warriors with a TADSAW SERVICE DOG posted on facebook only a few days ago.  "Life is full of beauty.  Notice it.  Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces.  Smell the rain and feel the wind.  Live your life to the fullest potential , and fight for your dreams."

I saved this quote for a special occasion, but I never knew the occasion would be so bittersweet and full of pain and fury.  As I write this a Penny's from Heaven Foundation team member's day old baby girl fights for her life.  The husband of another team member is at this moment in a ten hour surgery for a double lung transplant related to his experiences in Vietnam. I don't seem to be able to focus on work and am feeling quite off balance.  Prayers and more prayers are flying upwards, and I quite simply feel the need to string words together to express my feelings.

At the Annual PFHF Christmas party I was presented with a precious gift of my favorite things...three inspirational books.  One is called "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff", by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. The first sentence had me captured, "Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren't really that big a deal."

We are all too willing to focus on the little day to day problems and blow them way out of proportion. This certainly includes me.  Days and days of rain in South Texas and twelve muddy dog paws tracking in and out of my clean house send me into orbit.  But upon closer examination, what if I didn't have my dogs?  Sure my floor would be clean, but my life would be empty.  I complain about having to park so far from my destination, only to realize that the walking will do me good. And on and on. So as Carlson says we sweat he small stuff and 'completely lose touch with the magic and beauty of life. When you commit to working toward this goal you will find that you will have far more energy to be kinder and gentler.'

Okay I get it.  I try.  I really do. But how do we practice what we preach?  Today nothing is more important than my two dear friends who are struggling and fearful and waiting.  Waiting for the white coats to appear and say all is fine...your baby, your husband will be just fine. 

So today I take notice of those things the warrior mentioned.  For me, I will enjoy the gray skies and cold air and the fact that my house is warm and my dogs are huddled around me as I type, and as I wipe my eyes occasionally.  I bless them for being close and in their own way, understanding and consoling.  I will trust the timing of my lessons.  I will open my eyes and see the beauty around me, appreciate more the closeness of those I love and that love me back, I will trust my heart. I will allow no negativity into my day or life.  Those that intentionally hurt or injure or criticize, I will remove from my path.  I will clear the path to my heart. 

Today I know that I am able to trust the dark moments and passages that sometimes consume us and those we love.  I am going to try and breathe deeply, relax and trust the rhythm of life. I will realize that in these moments of frustration and angst, we learn that they are necessary moments.  For without them, we would not be able to see the beauty that surrounds us every moment of every day. 

I am going to turn on Christmas music, wrap some gifts and know that the universe has control.  And that soon the answers will become clear. As my friends move from darkness into the light, they too will understand. And they too will 'fight for their dreams.' And in the end we will all be gentler and kinder.

"Trust even the bleak times.
When you reach the end of
the tunnel, then you will
know why this all had to be."
~Melody Beattie


  1. My dog, Too, and I have recently been accepted into the TADSAW program. We are working hard to learn all the lessons and become a responsible, respectable team.

    Too and I will be taking our K-9 Good Citizenship test on Tuesday. Dianne Espe has been a blessing to both of us. She is kind and caring. She expects a lot from us and we are more than happy to comply. She never expects too much. She expects what we can accomplish successfully.

    Since beginning the program, I knew that Too and I would ultimately be in public places and needed to handle this task proficiently. So I found her a little boy's rain slicker in a resale store. I used a red sharpie to mark down her back. S. I. T. (Service Dog In Training under the letters).

    We have gently asked our surrounding community if it is okay to come into their establishments so we may train in the public arena. We have only been denied one time. We have been in Wal-Marts, Petsmarts, Lowes, Home Depots, HEBs, Walgreens, CVS, a variety of second hand stores, many restaurants, Whole Foods, Central Market, and many other public places. Too is doing her teacher and her human mom PROUD!!! She has never caused a problem in public. She minds her business and her manners. In a recent trip to HEB with our trainer, Dianne, we were told by her; "That's impressive!" when Too walked very closely to the cold cut section while never even turning to look at the meats that were at her nose level.

    I don't know if Too is an exceptional dog or if it is that we have an exceptional trainer. All I know is that I am so comforted and supported when I can have my wonderful "Battle Buddy" with me. It is especially helpful when we are allowed to be together in the VA.

    I am a Desert Storm veteran. I have been struggling with PTSD for over 20 years now. I kept thinking every new year that eventually the PTSD would magically get better. No such luck! Six years ago, I attended a Vets Journey Home weekend as a participant. That was the beginning turning point in my life. I quit dying one day at a time and began living them one day at a time.

    I was diagnosed with a brain aneurism just after submitting my completed application package to TADSAW. I was sure my hospitalization and recuperation period would knock us out of the program. Much to my surprise and glee, TADSAW saved our place in line. Too and I began training as soon as I had healed enough from what I call my "upstairs repairs".

    Even though we are not certified yet, it is an amazing journey. People and children ask daily if they can pet my dog. I tell Too, "Tell the nice lady or baby or gentleman hello". She walks forward sniffs their outstretched hand and accepts their pets. Then she returns to my heel on her own. The children especially become very happy when I thank them for being kind to my dog. People are curious about the cute little dog that wears the bright yellow rain slicker.

    Today, I had the honor to tell a veteran at the VA about the TADSAW program. He and his wife were curious and brave enough to ask me about Too. They wrote the website information down and were going to go online and check out TADSAW as soon they returned home to Killeen.

    I cannot begin to express my sincere gratitude enough to the TADSAW program. I am already feeling positive results from being able to spend more time with Too. She is so excited on "work" days. When I dress her, she takes on a very professional "dogatude". When I take her slicker and lead off she returns to a household dogatude. She is such a blessing to me!!! I am working hard at our training. I can hardly wait until "graduation day". I know she will look SO glamorous in her TADSAW Service Dog vest!!!

    Thank all of you SO VERY VERY MUCH!!!

    As Always,
    And Ever Grateful,
    Lee LeTeff
    Desert Storm Vet and Warrior in Training

  2. It is our pleasure! Thank you for your trust in us! God bless you and Too!