D'arcy Dent, owner of pet supply in Sammamish, was looking for a good cause to support while celebrating 10 years in business.
She said holidng a benefit for the United States War Dogs Association made perfect sense. So along with the fun, vendors, and cake that you might associate with a 10th anniversary bash this Saturday, July 14, Civilized Nature is collecting donations to ship to military conflict zones where four-legged troops are helping to protect U.S. service members every day.
"We'll have stuff here to purchase so you don't have to run all over town," to buy an item to donate, Dent said.
"Back in the day, the man who started (the association) had a dog that saved his life. Back then they euthanized the dogs," said Jeannie Berg, who has worked with Dent since Civilized Nature opened 10 years ago.
Berg said she feels a special kinship to the soldiers who develop special bonds with their military service dogs. She recently lost a close personal pet, Liam, her service dog who had been with her for years, and said the closeness of dog and handler cannot be understated.
"These war dogs and their handlers have the same kind of bond. One guy said (his dog) would lean against him, and a muscle tensing or an ear twitch" becomes close communication between human and canine, Berg said.
So in addition to having items on hand for purchase that US War Dogs has specifically requested for the dogs who serve with military units all over the world, Civilized Nature also will erect a memorial wall for people who want to give a cash donation in their pets' names. People can bring in a photo of their pet to be mounted in the store, Dent said.
Right now, so-called War Dogs are still considered "equipment" by the military, so the program has a small budget and it's often difficult to get funds to transport the dogs to a location where they can be adopted after their service. Some end up working with police, while others develop post-traumatic stress disorder and "just need someone to hide and cuddle with," Dent said.
There's currently a bill in Congress, the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, that could reclassify the dogs as canine members of the military instead of equipment, and make them eligible for benefits to ensure their care after their military service, such as using frequent flyer miles to help transport them to adoptive homes.
If you go...
The event takes place Saturday, July 14, from 10 am. to 6 p.m. at Civilized Nature, at 608 228 Ave NE in Sammamish, but the store is collecting donations both before and after.