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Vet lending a hand and a paw

Veteran showing others how service dogs can help
Posted: 2:42 PM, May 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-28 10:21:25-04
Randy and Morgan

IJAMSVILLE, Md. — Randy Powers is 7-year-old assistance dog Morgan’s second owner.

Together they are giving people a second chance through Paws4Vets, a branch of a national organization called Paws4People.

Paws4People provides service dogs to people with special needs and Paws4Vets is specifically for veterans and their needs.

“Post-Traumatic Stress, traumatic brain injuries, sexual military trauma, and then we have mobility hearing alert,” said Powers.

Powers is the Community Relations Advisor for Paws4Vets.

He knows how to help because he's been in the veteran’s shoes. He had a spine injury while serving. A career in federal law enforcement and multiple back surgeries slowed him down.

“I’d get to my neighbor’s driveway and I’d have to sit down on the curb and call my wife to come out and get me,” Powers said.

He was prescribed a wheel chair because of the amount of times he was falling. Morgan gave him four paws instead of two wheels.

“From 75 steps a day in short notice to about 500 steps a day, to within six months I was doing a mile a day. That was three years ago," Powers said. "I now do a little over a mile and a half a day.”

Now, he walks into other people's lives, volunteering at more than 100 events a year.

“What Morgan has done for me and gotten me out, given me my life back," Power said. "How can I not wanna do that for other people?”

Veterans are proud, sometimes to a fault.

“I told them 'No, give Morgan to somebody that needs her more than I do. I’m going to be fine.'” Powers said. "That’s the common phrase that you get from veterans is, 'no give it to someone else that needs it more than I do.'"

He said it’s not uncommon to meet a vet at an event, give them his card, and then have them call him from across the room asking if they can talk about a service dog.

Michael Schwartz was at a pet show and made a "B" line for the door because he couldn’t deal with the crowds.

“We sat him down on the floor, there was two other dogs there besides Morgan and I. He sat on the floor and we started talking to him and an hour and a half later the pet show was closing down and we were still talking.”

Schwartz connected with his dog Cheverly and changed his life.

“If you’re in your house and your kids are playing outside and you’re doing dishes and trying to keep an eye on them,” Schwartz said. “I can’t hear that even with my hearing aids. I can rely on Cheverly to alert me to sounds I normally wouldn’t hear.”

Just one example of the more than 700 lives that paws4people and paws4vets touch every year.

“I never in a million years would have thought after retirement would have been volunteering at a charity to do something like this. It’s extremely rewarding.”

The companions they never knew they needed, making changes they never thought possible.

RBC Wealth Management is holding a charity golf tournament next Wednesday, July 29 at the Whisky Creek Golf Course.