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Rescue Dogs to Therapy Dogs

Posted on March 04, 2013 at 8:30 AM
Tags: General

Tony Tengwall and Fitz attend a check presentation for the Fitz Fund at the Frattallone ACE Hardware store in St. Paul, Minn. The Fitz Fund will be sent to K9s for Warriors.Rescue Dog Art and Ace Hardware recently raised more than $15,600 for the purchase of a service dog to help a Minnesota Veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Lynn and Paul Sansale, owners of Rescue Dog Art, enlisted the help of Mike Frattallone, of Frattallone ACE Hardware stores, to sell 1,000 of their 2013 Rescued Heroes calendars in his Twin City stores. “I am just lucky to be the only retail site that all the calendars sold at,” said Frattallone. “Gail Rosenblum with the Star Tribune wrote the first story on this and that same day we had people lined up to buy the calendars.”

Last year, the Sansales distributed their first calendar that focused on rescued dogs that were utilized for therapy. A rescue dog is a dog that is adopted, given a home after abandonment or saved from a life threatening situation. This year’s calendar again features rescue dogs, but also one English Cocker Spaniel service dog named Fitz. Fitz was given to Tony Tengwall on Valentine’s Day last year. Tengwall served 11 years in the Minnesota Army National Guard and deployed to Baghdad Iraq from 2004 - 2005. When he returned from deployment, he had problems adjusting back to civilian life. Today, Fitz helps Tengwall deal with his PTSD. Being the Southeast Regional Coordinator for the Higher Educational Veterans Program with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, Tengwall travels a lot and Fitz is there by his side wherever he goes.

Last year’s calendar, the Sansales produced titled “Rescue Dog to Therapy Dog” got the attention of a Paws and Stripes fundraiser in New Mexico. Lynn did research into Paws and Stripes and learned how the organization trains rescue dogs to help Veterans cope and manage their PTSD through the companionship of a service dog. The Sansales had a spot open on the 2013 calendar and Lynn said, “Let’s make it a Vet from Minnesota with a service dog.” Lynn and Paul are currently working on next year’s calendar. Their experience with Tony and Fitz influenced them to have their next calendar feature Veterans and their service dogs. With the help of Paws and Stripes and K9s for Warriors, the Sansales met with 12 Veterans and their service dogs. For two and a half weeks, they drove over 6,000 miles to gather stories and pictures for the next calendar.

K9s for Warriors will choose the lucky Minnesota Veteran to receive the service dog from the fundraiser. The selected Veteran will travel to Florida for three weeks to train with their service dog
and then bring the dog home.

Lynn said they received donations in addition to the sale of calendars. “Minnesotans are very generous and they really got behind this. It really shows me people really care about Vets and helping out with this,” said Lynn.

If you’re interested in looking at and purchasing a calendar, checkout the Sansales’ website. You can also read Lynn’s blog she wrote on the trip she and Paul made to meet with the Veterans featured in the next calendar.

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