Cancer threatens a combat vet’s best friend and lifesaver

Guest post by Lisa Bonnington

UPDATE on November 16, 2018

Bella had her surgery a few weeks ago and one of her rear legs was removed. Recovery was swift. She is now a tripod and is learning quickly how to adjust to three legs instead of four. The leg that was removed was sent out for a biopsy that revealed cancer in the leg with no evidence that the cancer had spread to her body. If the leg had not been removed, the cancer would have spread.

When I learn more details from Lisa and Robbie, I will add them to this update.

Sincerely, Lloyd Lofthouse

****

Robbie spent four years as a US Marine before he became a Green Beret Special Forces medic in the Army.

Bella, Robbie’s PTSD service dog started her life as a rejected show dog thanks to an overbite. Then she became a skilled and irreplaceable service dog, a companion, a friend, and above all a life-saving member of Robbie’s family.

But the story of Bella and Robbie didn’t start there.

Several years after being honorably discharged, a deeply concerned friend tricked Robbie into going to the VA, where he was diagnosed with service related PTSD.  An account of this event is shared in Robbie’s soon to be released book The Next Mission.

Based on a recommendation that a service dog might help with Robbie’s PTSD symptoms that were becoming progressively worse, Robbie started the process to find a service animal. When he read Bella’s profile, he thought her temperament sounded ideal for his needs. Unfortunately, Bella was already scheduled for adoption to a man in Pennsylvania but that ended when the man lost his job and went through a divorce.

To meet Robbie, Bella started her second journey. She flew alone from Maryland to Atlanta with an eight-hour layover, before finally reaching her destination, Colorado Springs.  Bella arrived severely dehydrated, starving, scared, and covered in her own feces.  Lucky for Bella, Robbie’s medical training helped him deal with her health challenges and he was able to nurse Bella back to health.

Since then, the two have been inseparable.

Bella naturally and gracefully handles her responsibility as a service dog.  When Robbie’s PTSD is triggered she will place her head in his lap to take his focus off the trigger.  She will push her head under his hands, requesting a pet to give him a calming distraction.  If she hears stress in his voice, she often stands between Robbie and who or what has triggered him.

Bella is a kind, loving, gentle giant that thinks she is a lap dog.  I have never seen her aggressive unless she feels a member of her family is in danger.  She has adopted us, my boys and I, as her own.

Bella has grown into a skilled and irreplaceable service dog, a companion, a friend and above all a loved member of our family.

Recently Bella was diagnosed with Cancer in her hip.  The veterinarians and specialists we’ve met both recommended amputation of her hind quarter and possibly chemo therapy.  They also assured us that this was the best course of action and treatment to give her a chance to reach her normal life expectancy.  They assured us that dogs unlike people adapt quite easily to being a tripod.

However, this treatment comes at a very high price with the surgical estimate running between $5,000-$7,000 and that doesn’t include the expenses Robbie has already paid for x-rays, the diagnosis, medication, and the future possibility of chemo treatment.

With Robbie living on a fixed income due to his service disability, these costs are prohibitive, and we are not in a position to handle this expense.  We are now faced with the grim possibility of having to consider putting Bella down.  For anyone who has had to make this heartbreaking decision you know how devastating it can be.  To be forced to make it due to financial constraints is even worse.

We would not be able to live with ourselves if we did not exercise every possibility to help save Bella.  She has given so much of herself unconditionally, and it is our turn to take care of her.

Bella is the reason that Robbie, during very dark times, did not take his own life.  It is incomprehensible for him to consider taking hers.

I humbly ask you to consider a donation no matter how big or small and/or to share Bella’s story.  Go Fund Me: Saving Bella the Service Dog

Thank you.

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Which one is the Dream

Note: This post was written by me from a writing prompt in my Vet Center PTSD peer support group. The Prompt was “Dreams”.

When his daughter told him she wanted to go fishing, he didn’t know if he was dreaming or not. She was supposed to be dead, but he didn’t want her dead.

“How am I going to teach you to fish when I’ve never done it?” he asked. “I don’t own a fishing rod.”

“Look, Dad, I’m not going to be around much longer.” Amie was nine. “Everything the doctors tried has failed. The treatments have been worse than the Leukemia.” She covered her bald head with the spread fingers of both hands. “I hate being bald. I want my hair back. I want to live my final months without the treatment pain, and I want to start by learning how to fish together. Then we can go skydiving or go skiing in South America when it’s summer here.”

“I’ve never skied,” he replied.

“We’ll learn together,” she said and took his hand in both of hers. “This is going to be fun and you’ll have pleasant memories of us doing things together after I’m gone. That’s what I want.”

Warm tears flooded his eyes. He didn’t want to lose her too. He’d already lost his wife to a hit-and-run driver when they’d been out riding bicycles together as a family. He’d witnessed it happen. He’d also seen the car’s license plate before the driver sped off, but he didn’t report that to the police. He wanted to execute the murderer himself, and he knew who’d help him. They were all in the same Marine Corps unit and had been deployed together several times to Iraq and then Afghanistan.

Wait, how could they help him? They’d all been killed in the same ambush in Afghanistan where he’d been taken prisoner by terrorists.

“Don’t go, Dad!” Amie said. “You can’t leave. We have to go fishing again.”

But her voice faded and was gone, and he opened his eyes to darkness. The air was frigid and stuffy. He tried to straighten his legs but couldn’t because the space he was in was to small. He explored it with his hands. It seemed he was in a rusty metal box that was about a foot high, two feet wide and five feet long. He tried to scream but his tongue was swollen, his throat raw, and his lips scabbed. His rectum also hurt and then he remembered how they had stripped him naked, and tied him face down to a metal rack before taking turns sodomizing him.

He heard metal screech and then the top of the metal box opened letting in blinding light. He blinked but couldn’t clear his vision. He felt rough hands grab him and drag him from the cramped box. He was slapped. He was punched. He felt blood running from his nose.  He wanted to fight back, to resist, but he was too weak.

Then they were tying him to a metal lattice and lowering him into a pit full of a brown slop that smelled like shit. Once his body was immersed, he had to lean his head back as far as possible to keep his mouth out of the crap so he could breathe.

“Dad, Dad,” he heard Amie’s voice say. “Do you hear me?  It’s okay. I’m right here with you. I’m not dead. You were rescued. You’re in a military hospital. You aren’t a prisoner anymore, and leukemia didn’t get me. Remember? And I’m not nine. I’m twenty. We’re going to get through this together. I want you back, Dad. You’re all the family I have.”

He hoped Amie’s voice was real.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.

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Megan Leavey and her dog Rex, Semper Fi – Once a Marine, Always a Marine

I saw a film today, Wednesday June 14, 2017, based on the true story of a U.S. Marine and her dog.  While watching the film, I was with her every step of her journey. The first part of the film shows a young American that has lost her way due to the death of a close friend. Her family is dysfunctional and poor just like mine was. I identified with her reason for joining the Marines and that decision straightened her life out like it did for me.  When she reached boot camp and I watched her expression and body language as the DI’s tore into her and the other recruits. I laughed because that was me in 1965 at MCRD. Leavey went through boot camp at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

When Megan is asked in the film why she joined, she said, “To get away from my life.” I couldn’t have said it better.

But after book camp, she was still struggling to find a balance in her life, and that got her in trouble leading her to the shit detail that introduced her to the Marine Corps infantry bomb dog program and Rex.

The battle scenes in Iraq were intense, and I was there with her every step of the way.

After she leaves the Marine Corps, she finds herself lost again until she takes up the struggle to adopt and save the life of Sergeant Rex, her combat dog, who had been retired and was scheduled for euthanasia.

After Vietnam (1966) and the Marines (1968), it took me years to find that balance. It’s not an easy journey.

Since it isn’t a secret that she was reunited with Rex, who taught her what love is, I’m going to admit that my eyes got misty while watching this part of the film. If you see the film, I suggest that you take some tissues.

Megan Leavey grew up in Valley Cottage, New York. She enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and after boot camp was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, where she was paired with military working dog Rex. They served together on two deployments in Iraq. They were first deployed to Fallujah in 2005, and then to Ramadi in 2006, where they were both wounded by an improvised explosive device. Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a “V” device denoting heroism in combat.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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The Current Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) and a Clueless Donald Trump

Did Donald Trump know about plans to drop one MOAB in Afghanistan?  The answer is no, but after the bomb was dropped the malignant narcissist in the White House saw his approval rating go up.

The UK’s Independent reported, “Pentagon officials said (general) Gen Nicholson didn’t need and didn’t request President Donald Trump’s approval before using MOAB.”

What about BlU-82, also known as the Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and years later in Afghanistan in the Tora Bora Region? Was the Daily Cutter the mother of all conventional bombs before MOAB?  The answer is no. Read on to discover the explanation.

MOAB weighs 21,600 pounds. The Daily Cutter (BLU-82) weighed 15,000 pounds and was also dropped by MC-130 aircraft.

BLU-82 was used extensively in Vietnam. For instance, during Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971, twenty-five BLU-82s were dropped on NVA and Pathet Lao Forces in Laos. That is about 375,000 pounds or 17x one MOAB.

More operations using BLU-82 followed.  The last BLU-82 was dropped in July 2008 at a Utah Test and Training Range.

In addition, another eleven BLU-82s were dropped in five night missions during the 1991 Gulf War adding up to another 165,000 pounds, almost 8x MOAB.

Then the U.S. Air Force dropped several BLU-82s during a campaign to destroy Taliban and al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan to kill and demoralize personnel and to destroy underground and cave complexes. American forces began using BLU-82 in November 2001 and again a month later during the Battle of Tora Bora.

It was the success of BLU-82 that led to the decision to develop the MOAB.

What about the impact of smaller bombs? During the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force sent B-52s on well over 10,000 bombing raids. A typical mission delivered 168 tons (336,000 pounds) of ordnance on target, inundating an area 1.5 by 0.5 miles with an explosive force equivalent to 10 – 17 MOABs.

Since 2003, fifteen MOABs have been manufactured at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma.

How did the Malignant Narcissist in the White House, Donald Trump, get credit for dropping one big bomb he knew nothing about until after the blast?  The answer is good misleading public relations and/or more lying propaganda.

Oh, and worth noting, during World War II, the UK’s Royal Air Force dropped FORTY-TWO Grand Slam Bombs that weighed 22,000 pounds each. Then after World War II, the United States developed the T-12 Cloudmaker that weighed 44,000 pounds, much larger than MOAB or the Grand Slam, but the Cloudmaker was never used.

Dropping another big bomb was really no big deal once we learn about the history of the UK’s Grand Slam, and America’s Cloudmaker and BLU-82.  Trump does not deserve any credit for the use of MOAB.

Did you know that Donald Trump went out of his way to avoid serving in Vietnam, and the malignant narcissist called sleeping around (having lots of sex with different women) and avoiding STD’s his “Personal Vietnam”?   – New York Times and The Hill

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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The Donald Trump Campaign’s Latest Stupidity Explodes on Twitter

Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, who is as ignorant as the Donald is and probably has the same narcissist ego, took to Twitter and blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for the death of Captain Humayun Khan, who Trump insulted when he insulted the hero’s parents when the mother did not talk at the DNC.

But Captain Khan sacrificed his life to save his men from a suicide bomber in 2004 when G. W. Bush was President, four years before Obama was elected president.

Of course it isn’t Katrina’s fault if Trump ordered her to do it. From what I’ve read of his business history based on the experience of people who once worked for him, the Donald is an extreme micromanager and no one does anything without him knowing and approving.

In addition, this is what I’ve been thinking. Captain Khan deliberately risked and then lost his life to give his men time to fall back from a suicide bomber rushing their position in a car. Why did he only get the Bronze Star, why not the Medal of Honor?

How was it Hillary Clinton’s (HRC) fault? Because in the Donald’s twisted brain, she voted for the bill that approved the Iraq War.

On 60 Minutes, Donald Trump clearly blamed HRC for voting for the bill that approved the Iraq War – watch the next video to hear him say it with your own ears – and you will also hear that he didn’t blame Mike Pence, his VP running mate, who not only voted for the bill that authorized the Iraq War, but authored it. That means Pence helped write the bill.  All HRC did was vote for the bill. Since then, HRC has publicly admitted she made a mistake signing the bill that approved the Iraq War, but Pence has never admitted it was a mistake that he wrote and voted for it.

In the 60 Minute’s clip, Trump also claimed he never supported the Iraq War since the beginning.

However, FackCheck.org reports that “On September 11, 2002, Howard Stern asked Trump if he supports invading Iraq. Trump answers hesitantly, “Yea, I guess so. You know. I wish it was, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

Conservative Critics often dismiss fact check sites that reports conservative lies, because they think these sites are biased against conservatives – even though the same fact check sites report the lies that liberal politicians also say in public – but that doesn’t change the fact that Trump said what he said in 2002.

In addition, on January 28, 2003, Trump appeared on Fox Business’ “Your world with Neil Cavuto,” on the night of President Bush’s State of the Union address. Trump says he expects to hear “a lot of talk about Iraq and the problems,” and the economy. He urges Bush to make a decision on Iraq. “Either you attack or you don’t attack,” he says. But he offers no opinion on what Bush should do.

How can anyone that is sane, who’s knows about this and calls themselves an American citizen, support Donald Trump?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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The Ignorance of Donald Trump on Display with another Foolish Twitter Rant as he insults a U.S. Marine

Donald J. Trump went on another Twitter rampage after the Democratic National Convention ended, and in one Tweet he said, “General John Allen, who I never met but spoke against me last night, failed badly in his fight against ISIS. His record = BAD #Never Hillary”.

This is another example of how ignorant and foolish Donald Trump is.

How could General John Allen (click link to discover Allen’s accomplishments) fail badly in a fight he never fought? Although he served in Iraq, he never had command of the Multi-National Forces West, and he retired from active duty more than a year before the Islamic State of ISIS and/or ISIL was established.

Who is General John Allen? CNN reported, “Allen graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976, and has racked up a long and distinguished list of accomplishments both on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as an attempted role as peacemaker to one of the longest and most intractable conflicts in the Middle East.”

General John Allen commanded the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from July 18, 2011 to February 10, 2013, and then he retired from active service after having served the United States as a U.S. Marine for 37 years — something the Donald has never done because during the Vietnam war, Trump managed to avoid being drafted with several deferments. Read all about it in Was Trump a ‘draft dodger’?

In fact, in June 2014, Aljazeera reported, “Sunni rebels declared new ‘Islamic caliphate’. Armed group ISIL changed name to Islamic State, and says its empire extends from Iraq to Syria’s Aleppo.”

ISIS has operated out of Iraq & Syria since 1990 under several different names and did not appear in Afghanistan until 2015 about two years after General Allen retired from active duty.

Do we really want a president who is this ignorant and libels and slanders people without knowing what he is talking about? Donald Trump is a liar. Donald Trump is a loser. Donald Trump is a fraud. Donald Trump has a thin skin. Donald Trump is a coward and a bully. Donald Trump is a small man no matter what size his body parts are.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

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A Semper Fi Hero in Orlando

What would Donald Trump say about an American citizen called Imran Yousuf if all he heard for the first time was this young man’s name in connection to the night club massacre in Orlando, Florida?

The odds are that The Donald would think that Yousuf was from the Middle East, a Muslim and a danger to all Americans and then say it without fact checking. After all, soon after the Orlando nightclub massacre, Trump was demanding a ban on all Muslim travel to the U.S. before the FBI released any verified information on the shooter and his motives. The Donald didn’t waste any time to demonize an entire religion of 1.6 billion people in his campaign full of hate, racism, lies and deception in his race to become President of the United States.

To sum it up, I’ll turn to Jennifer Williams who reported on Vox.com that “Donald Trump’s speech scared me as an American Muslim. It should scare you, too.”

I think The Donald should scare every American, because to me The Donald is the Bogeyman in the flesh. The Bogeyman is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults to frighten children into good behavior. This mythical creature is no longer a myth. The Donald is real, and parents now have a real person to frighten their children with. Parents can now say, “If you don’t behave, The Donald will come for you in the night, and he will demonize and bash you on TV in front of the entire world.”

I want to introduce you to the real Imran Yousef, a former U.S. Marine and Afghan veteran with a first and last name that sounds like he could be from the Middle East and a Muslim.  Click this link to discover more about Imran:  The Marine Corps Times says, “Marine Vet’s quick actions saved dozens of lives during Orlando nightclub shooting.”

What name sounds more Middle Eastern and Muslim – Imran Yousuf or Omar Mateen? Before you answer that question did you know that Omar is not only an Arabic name but is also of Hebrew (Jewish) origin, but Imran only has Arabic roots – yet CBS reports Imran Yousuf is a 25 year-old Hindu?

That led me to ask another question: Is The Bible More violent Than the Quran? The answer to that question will probably surprise most people who read it. In 2010, NPR ran a story to answer this question and referred to a study by religion historian Philip Jenkins who decided to compare the brutality quotient of the Quran and the Bible.

For readers who don’t have the patience and/or time to click the previous link and discover the entire answer, here is one short quote from Philip Jenkins: “Much to my surprise,” he said, “the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.” Violence in the Quran, he and other say, is largely a defense against attack.

Semper Fi is Latin and it means Always Faithful.

According to CNN, there are almost 500 Muslims and 86 Hindus serving in the U.S. Marines, and if you are curious for more facts and truth, here is a link to a story about U.S. Muslim Serviceman who Have Died in the Service of Our Country.

Send a message to Donald Trump to delete his mouth, and make sure to vote in November but not for him.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award-winning author.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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