Denny Dorman of Adel is the first Korean War Veteran to receive the aid of a service dog from the Puppy Jake Foundation.
Denny Dorman is a lot of things in this area. He is a Dallas County resident, living just southwest of Adel, a Purple Heart recipient and now he is the first Korean War Veteran to receive aid from a service dog from the Puppy Jake Foundation.
The Puppy Jake Foundation is “dedicated to helping military veterans through the assistance of well bred, socialized and professionally trained service dogs,” according to the foundation’s website at www.puppyjakefoundation.org.
Some of the dogs are trained for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to help calm them down when they are on the verge of a break down, and some are trained to help disabled veterans get around easier. For Dorman, he was given a service dog to help him get up when he gets stuck on the ground on his hands and knees.
“In the past I’ve had to crawl to something that would help me get up, but with Simon now, he’s taught to brace so that I can call him over and use his shoulders to help me up,” Dorman said.
In addition to being able to help him get off the ground, Simon, a labrador retriever, can also pick things up like cell phones or keys, he can open the refrigerator if there is a towel tied to the door and he can even turn on lights when needed. He can also be directed by hand signals to keep a space between Dorman and another person or to walk behind him if he is worried about what is behind him.
Dorman filled out an application last October when there were only three dogs in the training program. He was originally told they were going to return his application fee to him and let him know when they would be able to give him a dog, but he told them to keep the money since he had already taken it out of his budget.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 31, Dorman will have had Simon for seven weeks.
“I was ecstatic when I was finally notified, you know, that I was chosen as one of the recipients,” Dorman said.
Seven weeks ago, however, was not the first time he had had contact with Simon.
Last Thanksgiving he was visiting his neighbor for dinner and Simon’s foster family was there with Simon when he was just an 8-week old puppy. Dorman said he offered to hold the dog while the foster family was eating their dinner.
“They said that’d be fine and Simon just cuddled up,” Dorman said.
Before Simon went to live with Dorman, Dorman got to go watch him go through training for about two months before graduation from the foundation.
“It just seemed like there was a bond,” Dorman said. “But we never know which dog we’re going to get. We fill out the application and they determine whether our application is going to be accepted.”
He said that Simon is one of three dogs from the same litter who went into the Puppy Jake Foundation’s training program.
Dorman said that he decided he wanted a service dog 10 years ago and he reached out to Veterans Affairs. They told him they could get him a service dog, but it would cost him $10,000.
“How many veterans do you know that don’t work, can’t work, one thing or another that have $10,000 just to throw out,” Dorman said. “I was watching television and saw this piece that they did about the Puppy Jake Foundation and I copied down the number and called Becky Beach.”
Beach is listed as the CEO and board vice president on www.puppyjakefoundation.org.
Dorman was directed to print the application from the website, which he did.
Since Dorman first brought Simon home to live with him, he said there have been times when Simon has found something more interesting than Dorman calling him. Despite that, Dorman said he always responds to a whistle.
“If I whistle the third time and he comes on the third whistle, when he comes in the house, he goes to his kennel and stands in front of his kennel and knows that that’s his punishment for not paying attention,” Dorman said.
Dorman said he served 12 and a half years in the military, doing two tours in the Korean War. He said he is a survivor of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, which he described as “one of the most epic battles” of the Korean War, and by his count, 15,000 Army and Marines went in and only about 3,500 came out alive.
Dorman said that he has not had issues with getting access to public places due to having Simon at his side, but there was an incident at Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson when he was told he couldn’t have a backpack on the casino floor. The backpack had equipment for Simon.
He explained that the backpack had equipment like a collapsible water dish and water for Simon but they still said he had to check the bag at the door and he could pick it up when he left. After he was done playing the machine he was on he told them he would not be returning to Wild Rose.
“If they had told me about when I first went in, it would have been a different story but I was probably in there 20 minutes before they (checked the bag),” Dorman said. “That’s the only place I’ve had adverse communication.”
Wherever the dog goes, he is wearing a vest that has cards inside that have information on the section of the Americans with Disabilities Act that explains service dogs.
He left the military with a broken back, has broken it one other time, and has had three back operations in his life. He has been retired since 1978.
Dorman, who will be 84 years old in October, said that he is “proud and grateful” to have gotten a service dog from the Puppy Jake Foundation.
“I just can’t say enough for the Foundation,” he said.