Library features veteran and his Labradoodle

Lon and Gander
Lon and Gander

Vietnam veteran Lon Hodge and his service dog, Gander, return to Grand Rapids Area Library for a program on Friday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. Hodge and Gander travel the United States doing planned acts of kindness (PACKS) while visiting veterans, schools, community groups and first responder organizations. They came to Grand Rapids a year ago at the request of Mary Corwin who had become fascinated with their story via the internet. Their story carries such positive messages that Corwin sought support from the library and other community organizations and individuals to invite them back for a second appearance.

Moving on from 12 years of military service, Hodge thought he had successfully transitioned back to civilian life.He became an award-winning poet, internationally certified taekwondo master instructor, professional archer, and a professor when PTSD came on suddenly and took his life apart, ending his marriage and career. Five panic attacks a day and night terrors made it impossible for him to function. Like many who suffer from PTSD, he considered suicide.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, a young mixed breed dog awaited his fate in a Colorado animal shelter.  Past the cute puppy stage, the dog was labeled “unadoptable” and was days away from being euthanized.  He was rescued by Freedom Service Dogs and taken to a Colorado women’s prison to be trained as a service dog after which he was paired with Hodge, giving both man and dog a second chance at new life.The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

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