www.Wags4Warriors.com (330) 285-3941
Hi! I’m Tater Tot.
I have a very important job. I am following in my big brother Badger’s footprints before me. We are service dogs and provide support for our hero Jenn!
Service dogs, according to the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disabilities Rights Section, are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Do you want to know what Wags 4 Warriors is? Mom says it’s a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization based in Broadview Heights, Ohio serving Veterans in Northeast Ohio and surrounding areas. Wags 4 Warriors was Co-Founded by Frank & Jen DeLorenzo in October of 2011 and has supported and trained over 700 dogs for veterans. They work with local rescue organizations to match a veteran with an appropriate dog and provide all the training and support the dog needs to become the veterans service dog at NO COST to the veteran. The service dogs can be trained for all the tasks that help the Veteran get through the day. Wags 4 Warriors has supported veterans in training their dogs for some mobility tasks, seizure alert, retrieval of items and so much more. Wags 4 Warriors is a veteran training veteran program and each veteran being trained also is assigned to a veteran coordinator to keep in touch with. Wags 4 Warriors is one big veteran family. Veterans that are Service Connected for PTSD, TBI, MST or other service-connected disabilities may be eligible for the program. It’s easy to apply for the program by going to www.Wags4Warriors.org and click on the enlist tab. There is a wait list for new veterans to be accepted into the program. Wags 4 Warriors runs on charitable donations only. Fundraising events are the main way to support our veterans and their dogs in the program. The program does many events in many forms and strive to educate the general public on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws as well as what to do when you come across one of us service dogs while we are working.
I asked my mom to tell all of you all about her and Badger. Here is what she said:
“This is my experience as a veteran with Wags 4 Warriors. My name is Jenn, I am 29 and currently reside in beautiful Medina, Ohio. I joined the United States Army in 2012. I served as an Intelligence Analyst – but also served as part of the military honors team for 6 years. During this time, I helped bury close to 1,500 veterans. In 2018, . I was diagnosed with CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), back and hip problems, dysautonomia and chronic migraines. I was classified as totally and permanently disabled through the Veterans Health Administration. I had to accept that I needed help living my daily life. It was a struggle for me every day.
I then met a veteran named Bill with his service dog Kayla III at the VA. I proceeded to ask questions about the program where he received his dog and decided to take a step for myself by applying to the program. I found Wags 4 Warriors. The process to join Wags 4 Warriors was simple. I filled out the application, got a doctor note from my primary care provider saying that a service dog would benefit me, and then I waited to hear back. Within approximately 2 weeks I heard that I was accepted into the program. I initially had brought in my 5-year-old Husky (Badger) as I could not take on another dog at the time. We started Wags 4 Warriors first by doing an evaluation to see if my dog Badger would be eligible to be a good service dog. We had to make sure Badger was emotionally and physically sound and had working ability (trainable). Wags 4 Warriors also had to ensure that I could provide a stable and secure living environment for my dog.
Once we were accepted into the program, Badger went through rigorous training where we completed well over 10 hours of basic beginners training (sit, down, stay, leave it, come, wait, etc.). We had to also participate in a canine good citizen evaluation and pass before we could move onto intermediate classes. We spent another 20 hours on intermediate training and tasks (circles, blocks, follow, ignore etc.). After basic training and intermediate training was completed, we began public access training. When in public access training we completed over another 4 hours before receiving our official IN TRAINING vest. After a total of about 30 more hours of public access training, we were ready to graduate. After over a years’ worth of training and hard work, unfortunately, Badger was injured while working and had to be medically retired.
In January of 2019, I had then moved to a larger house and had more accommodation for another dog. I wanted to still have a Husky and found a very reputable breeder (even though most Wags 4 Warriors dogs are rescues) and acquired my second service dog in training, Tater Tot. We began training Tater Tot at 8 weeks old at home, by time he was 6 months old and neutered we were able to start classes. After going through beginner classes, canine good citizen, intermediate classes and public access again, Tater Tot had earned his in-training vest. By March of 2020 we were scheduled to graduate and then covid-19 hit. Wags 4 Warriors lost a lot of funding and fundraisers were canceled and the program was almost lost. But thank you to many amazing donations we were able to open the doors again to the veterans who are still active in the program. Since Tater Tot has been my service dog, he has been trained in retrieving small items, taking off socks, counterbalance work, blocking, dissociative alerts and heart rate alerts before I pass out. Tater Tot has saved my life on numerous occasions to date. Tater Tot has got to travel with me to Tennessee and to California. Badger is happily enjoying retired life and cuddles at home. In September of 2020, I began to follow a trainer so I could become a trainer as well. I have been helping as a trainer to train intermediate level dogs with button pushing, wrapping, alerts, blocking and more. I have found a peace with helping other veterans train their dogs to be able to successfully graduate Wags 4 Warriors. I hope that Wags 4 Warriors can continue to help other veterans in the same way they have helped me.”
Tater Tot here again, would you like to help us? There are lots of ways. Wags 4 Warriors runs on charitable donations only. Fundraising events are the main way to support our veterans and the dogs in the program. The program does many events in many forms and strive to educate the general public on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws as well as what to do when you come across a service dog in public. To help raise money for the program we do have some T-shirts and other gear in limited sizes (hoping we can get more in soon) that we currently only sell at events, but they are a great way to show your support and spread the word about us. A monetary donation no matter how big or small makes a HUGE difference for both our veterans and our service dogs. We are happy to provide brochures and fact sheets to help in fundraising opportunities. When appropriate and if available, we send a veteran with their service dog to fundraisers for meet and greet. We are also always in need of donations in the form of collars, leashes, treats, toys, bones, cages and anything dog related to help our veterans. Other ways to help support us is word of mouth! Getting our name out into the public keeps helping us grow.
Donations can be made securely through PayPal and securely through Square: http://mkt.com/wags-4-warriors/donation or sent to the following address: Wags 4 Warriors P.O. Box 41191 Brecksville, Ohio 44141