In May of 2013, Founder Andy Gladstein was in a telecommunications store in Coronado, California, home of the training base for the Navy SEAL teams. He was wearing his Indiana University baseball cap and he struck up a conversation with a man and his wife. Andy learned that this gentleman was in charge of all the SEALs on the Navy base. He had been deployed 28 times. His stories were fascinating and inspiring.
The friendship between the Gladstein’s and their newfound Navy friends continued with lunches, dinners and events. The last time they met, Andy was thinking thoughtfully about what to get his wife for a very memorable anniversary present. His hero friend suggested he buy a dog, have it trained as a service dog and give it to a wounded veteran. It was then the realization hit Andy. What these veterans needed was someone who would fight for them as they fought for their country; faithfully, every day, without question or complaint. The idea for Dogs for our Brave was born.
Sgt. Andrew Smith was scheduled to speak to a veteran’s group in San Diego, which presented Andy Gladstein his opportunity to present him with service dog Champ. Andy and Marylynn Gladstein celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary in 2013. Marylynn’s father was a veteran, and she always had a place in her heart for our service members. Andy knew that nothing would honor his wife more than giving a service dog to a wounded warrior. Watch Champ and Sgt. Smith meet in the video below.
Between the cost of training, food, pharmaceuticals, and veterinary care, Andy soon discovered how expensive a service dog is. The average veteran couldn’t afford one. Andy decided that in order to be successful, Dogs for our Brave needed to completely cover the cost of the service dog. This was the key point that made his vision different from every other. He met with trainers, with experts, with shelters, and with veterinarians, and put together an infrastructure that would result in a superior service dog for the most cost-effective budget. The 12-to-18-month training period for the next dog started in 2013, and in 2014 Gabby, a rescued mixed breed was placed with Chris Roseberry. In the following years, more service dogs were paired with wounded veterans becoming the Dogs for our Brave revolution.
April Haskins, Executive Director, spoke with Andy in November 2022, listen to their conversation.
Our mission is to provide professionally trained service dogs at no cost to veterans who have suffered debilitating injury or illness while in service to our country. Our goal is to use rescue dogs at every opportunity, thus saving two lives at once. In order to fully realize our mission without adding financial burden, we also provide a continuum of free support that covers all food, veterinary care, and pharmaceuticals for the life of the dog.
Each dog will be trained to do the normal commands (sit, lay, come, stay), assistance commands, Canine Good Citizen (CGC) skills, and Assistance Dog International (ADI) commands. Some of these skills include opening the fridge to grab a water, turn lights on and off, and retrieve items. All of our dogs also learn social emotional skills to assist their veteran with PTS moments and nightmare interruption.
Other commands will be taught that are tailored to each veteran’s needs.