The Service Dog Digger, Written and Illustrated by Hope I Saxton

In honor of National Dog Day,  a day that “celebrates all breeds, pure and mixed and serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, either from public shelters, rescues and pure breed rescues. National Dog Day honors family dogs and dogs that work selflessly to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort. Dogs put their lives on the line every day – for their law enforcement partner, for their blind companion, for the disabled, for our freedom and safety by detecting bombs and drugs and pulling victims of tragedy from wreckage.”  Dakota and I think that today, while we are celebrating ALL dogs, it is also the  perfect time to introduce an important children’s book that honors Service Dogs.

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Digger the Service Dog: “by evoking an emotional response in my art I can have a conversation with a total stranger, who may or may not speak my language…from anywhere in the world. If I can illustrate a response toward empathy and educate the public to seen and unseen disabilities, I have used my art to encourage a more compassionate society.” Hope Saxton

FROM THE SERVICE DOG DIGGER: “What does a Service Dog do?  A Service Dog helps people function in a normal life by helping disabled people do things that they can not do, like fetch an out of reach phone when it rings. They may also alert a handler to a ringing doorbell that they cannot hear. A Service Dog may also help mobilize a person by helping them stand or walk, or even by transporting them. Service Dogs come in every size and with different tasks that they like to do.”

Written and beautifully illustrated by Hope I Saxton in language that children can understand, The Service Dog Digger “allows the reader to understand the role service dogs play in society. Hope shares her experience that endears pets and children as well as pets and parents.”

Meet Digger:

“Digger” Photo Courtesy of Hope I Saxton

Digger is the dog of author and illustrator Hope I Saxton. “Digger is a soft, attentive, friendly, longhaired Chihuahua that will capture your heart.”

In The Service Dog Digger,  Saxton describes “the many ways in which Digger helps his owner be more aware of her surroundings and to remain calm, so she can speak better.”

She also explains to children (and adults), that “A working animal helps his or her human handler do his or her job better than doing it alone.” She mentions the jobs that police dogs, performance dogs and search and rescue dogs do that is clear, simple and concise for young minds to understand.

This book, while small in pages, stands tall in the important message that it shares. Children AND adults will learn the PROPER way to approach ANY animal, especially a working animal. Hope teaches us the:

5 Finger Rule to Approaching Working Animals…

  1. Stop
  2. Look!
  3. Listen…
  4. Ask….
  5. Follow directions!!!

That is a rule that many adults need to be reminded of as well!  Including myself!

This beautiful hard-cover book is only 18 pages, but it is 18 EXTREMELY IMPORTANT pages. In the back you will find various organizations that will help individuals with disabilities, animals, Veterans and more.

I know many of you who read my blog have service animals of your own. What an incredible gesture it would be to purchase this book (it is available as a hardback 978-1-4808-3707-2,  which is what I received, paperback 978-1-4808-3705-8,  and as an E-Book 978-1-4808-3706-5, Publisher: for the facilities that you visit, as well as to give to some of your more special parents and children that you encounter during your visits. What a wonderful and cherished gift this would make!


While Dakota and I give The Service Dog Digger a resounding rating of  “4-PAWS UP!!”, my one and only complaint, (which is actually more of a suggestion),  is that I would have liked to have seen this book be longer. I am suggesting that Hope Saxton turn The Service Dog Digger into a SERIES, that will go into more depth about the myriad of SPECIFIC situations that I am sure Digger helped her with throughout his life.  How educational, interesting and fun that would be for all of us to read!


Hope Saxton is a U.S. Marine and Army veteran with a service dog for almost a decade. Hope has a BFA in Visual Communications from the Northwest College of Art in Poulsbo, WA. She is an avid photographer, motorcyclist and gardener. Hope volunteers her art and her time to veteran and other service organizations.

She is married and has 4 grown children, and 3 grandchildren, 3 dogs, a turkey and a dozen chickens. She and her husband, Franklin, reside on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

Thank you to Hope Saxton for this wonderful book and to ALL OF YOU, Dakota and I wish you a

 Happy National Dog Day!!

Winners:Reporting for Duty By Tracy Libby

Thanks to all who entered our give-away for:

Reporting for Duty Cover Don Burk courtesy Florida Times Union

Reporting for Duty Cover Don Burk courtesy Florida Times Union


It’s time to announce our 



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Book Feature/Give-Away: Reporting for Duty, Profiling Disabled Veterans and Their Service Dogs, By Tracy Libby

FROM DAKOTA’S DEN: Due to conflicting personal issues/time constraints, we were unable to finish reading Reporting for Duty at the time we were scheduled to do a review.  Reporting for Duty has been featured numerous times in the pet blogging circuit as well. As a result, we have chosen to do a BOOK FEATURE rather than a “review.”  The information we are sharing in this “feature”  was sent to us by the publisher. It is our pleasure to share this touching, informative and gorgeous book with you. It is one you will want to keep on your coffee table for your pleasure and that of your guests.  Don’t miss a chance to win a copy at the end of this post. There will be THREE winners and the give-away is open world-wide.

Reporting for Duty Cover Don Burk courtesy Florida Times Union

Reporting for Duty Cover Don Burk courtesy Florida Times Union

A Portion of the Proceeds Will Be Donated to Veterans Moving Forward

Reporting for Duty,  is a new book by award-winning author and photographer Tracy Libby, who profiles 15 disabled veterans from WWII, Vietnam, both Iraq wars and Afghanistan.  The comprehensive book details how these brave military men and women who served our country are overcoming obstacles with the help of their service dogs, some of which saved their lives.


In writing Reporting for Duty, Libby sought out veterans with a wide range of physical and emotional challenges with one thing in common: a skilled, reliable and loyal service dog by their side.  It features how the dogs are selected, trained and socialized before being matched with their veteran partners and a background on assistance dogs, guide dogs, PTSD dogs and emotional-support dogs, as well as the history of canine-assisted therapy.

Reporting for Duty Page 6 Page 6 Shelley Castle Photography

Reporting for Duty Page 6 Page 6 Shelley Castle Photography


The book also covers the many service-dog training organizations and the dedicated people who are determined to help those who fought for our nation regain their mobility and independence.


According to a RAND Corporation September 2014 study, more than 540,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD and/or depression, and more than 260,000 veterans have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)—and these numbers do not count the veterans from other wars, from peacetime service, or with other physical injuries, illnesses, or diseases that could benefit from service dogs. 


We decided to publish Reporting for Duty to emphasize the urgent and desperate need that our veterans have for service dogs and the importance that needs to be placed on supporting them,” said Christopher Reggio, general manager, I-5 Press.  “We hope that these 15 powerful stories of hope and empowerment will inspire others to get involved and give back to those who served our country.”


Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen hugs his service dog, Yoko, while on a walk. Simonsen lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he endured on a deployment to Afghanistan and the service dog helps him with his daily activities. PTSD can occur after one has been through a traumatic event.

Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen hugs his service dog, Yoko, while on a walk. Simonsen lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he endured on a deployment to Afghanistan and the service dog helps him with his daily activities. PTSD can occur after one has been through a traumatic event. Reporting for Duty Photo on page 8 taken by Senior Airman Christina Brownlow courtesy United States Airforce


Reporting for Duty includes the following sections:

  • PTSD, TBI and MST
  • Prison Puppy Programs
  • Guide Dogs
  • Therapy Dogs in History
  • Combat and Operational Stress-Control Dogs
  • Canine Co-therapists
  • From Shelter to Service
  • How Dogs Read Us
Kai, a service dog, lays on the lap of Staff Sgt. August O'Niell during an Air Force wounded, ill or injured warrior sitting volleyball practice at the Joint Base Andrews West Fitness Center, Nov. 18. O'Niell, a pararescueman, was wounded in July 2011 during a deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian Ferguson) Reporting for Duty page 208 Mat Hayward Shutterstock

Kai, a service dog, lays on the lap of Staff Sgt. August O’Niell during an Air Force wounded, ill or injured warrior sitting volleyball practice at the Joint Base Andrews West Fitness Center, Nov. 18. O’Niell, a pararescueman, was wounded in July 2011 during a deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian Ferguson) Reporting for Duty page 208 Mat Hayward Shutterstock

Reporting for Duty brings to light the valiant veterans and first responders who are brave enough to seek help and no longer hide but become visible in society again as they make remarkable progress in their recoveries,” said Karen Jeffries, commander, US Navy, retired, co-founder and president emeritus, Veterans Moving Forward, Inc.

Reporting for Duty by Tracy Libby is available  wherever books are sold.

About the Author
Tracy Libby
is an award-winning writer and photographer whose work has won multiple awards from the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the Alliance of Purebred Dog Writers (APDW). She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon and has been writing about pet care for more than two decades. Her articles have appeared in mainstream magazines, including Dog Fancy, Modern Dog, Dog World, Puppies USA, Dogs USA, and the AKC Gazette, as well as online for Embrace Pet Insurance. She lives in Oregon with her husband, five cats, and five Australian Shepherds. She has been involved in the sport of dogs for nearly three decades, exhibiting her Aussies in agility, conformation and obedience.

Reporting for Duty
by Tracy Libby
Hardcover with Jacket
Pages: 240
9 ¼ X 10 ¼ inches
More than 190 full-color photographs
$29.95/$37.50 CAN
ISBN:  978-1-62008-198-3
EAN: 978-1-62008-198-3-52995
UPC: 7-31360-88198-4



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About Veterans Moving Forward

Veterans Moving Forward is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating mainly in the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing therapy and service dogs at no cost to physically and mentally challenged veterans of the US Armed Forces. VMF is unique in its model by providing canine support and a full range of services (from dealing with post-traumatic stress to adjusting to loss of limbs or immobility) to meet the dramatic unfulfilled needs of our nation’s deserving veterans of any branch of the American military from any generation, campaign, or peacetime service. These disabilities may have been acquired either during military service to our country or through an accident or illness incurred in private life following that service.


About I-5 Press
A division of I-5 Publishing, I-5 Press publishes beautifully illustrated, high-quality trade and gift books in categories such as dog, horse, reptile, pet care, farm and rural lifestyle and transportation. For more information, visit I-5 Press on Facebook at

ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event Gears Up For 8th Year #BtC4A

FROM DAKOTA’S DEN:This is a guest post by Stacee Daniel,  the Executive Director of ACVO. We are proud to feature such an important event that will benefit many!

Service animal owners and handlers can register April 1-30

for a free screening eye exam this May


Banner courtesy of

Banner courtesy of

In the spring of 2012, Jenine Stanley and her dog, Swap, participated in the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event just as they had each year since the program’s inception in 2008. It again took place in a participating ophthalmologist’s office, but this time ‘Swap’ was diagnosed with Pigmentary Uveitis, a condition that would affect his vision later in his career.




“The wonderful veterinary ophthalmologists saw him every six months thereafter and we monitored the condition for changes,” said Stanley. “Had I not gone to the event and had Swap’s eyes checked, the condition could have become much worse, including painful inflammation. I also would not have known what to look for in terms of changes in his work and how his actual vision is affected.”


Swap’s story is just one amongst hundreds, where this screening process has helped these amazing Service Animals and their owners manage or overcome a previously undiagnosed ophthalmic condition. 2015 marks the 8th Annual ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event. Since its inception in 2008 over 30,000 Service Animals have received free screening eye exams, over 7,000 in 2014 alone. In the beginning, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologist’s ® (ACVO®) public relations chair, Dr. Bill Miller, recognized the good that was already being done by many members; the majority of whom already provided similar free exams across the country. He, too, employed such a program in his clinics, but he had a vision to combine and expand these individual events into something with much more of an impact.


The goal of the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event is to provide as many free screening exams as possible to eligible Service Animals across the U.S. and Canada throughout the month of May. Service Animals including: guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and certified-current, registered therapy animals, that all selflessly serve the public.

service dog 2

This year’s event is sponsored by ACVO® and Stokes Pharmacy, as well as several generous industry sponsors, volunteer ophthalmologists and staff. Participating doctors volunteer their services, staff and facilities at no charge to participate in the event.

service dog


To qualify, Service Animals must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Owners/agents for the animal(s) must FIRST register the animal via an online registration form beginning April 1 at Registration ends April 30. Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area. Then, they may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment, which will take place during the month of May. Times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so clients should try to register and make appointments early.


About the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists®

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® (ACVO®) is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.” To become board certified, a candidate must successfully complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, a one-year internship, a three-year ACVO® approved residency and pass a series of credentials and examinations. For more information, please visit


About Stokes Pharmacy

Stokes Pharmacy is a national, full-service compounding pharmacy specializing in the art and science of the custom formulation of prescription medicines for humans and animals. Leading the way in innovation, Stokes invites veterinarians to prescribe compounded medications online securely, quickly, and accurately via iFill, a cloud-based prescription management system. For more information, visit


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Book Review:Babette’s Pack by Kathryn Walter

Novel illustrates how lap dogs could actually save lives

From the publisher: According to pets can positively affect their owner’s mood, depression, blood pressure and overall health.

babette's pack

Aiming to raise awareness of this type of therapy, author Kathryn Walter shares a fictional story based on true medical cases in “Babette’s Pack.” Following the spunky Shih Tzu Babette after she is saved from animal abuse, this heartwarming tale illustrates how a family can become a pack.”

“Meet Babette. A beloved family dog who is part guardian angel and part amazing psychic who guides her “pack” (family) through the pitfalls of life with courage and self-sacrifice. This book is one whose time has come as Babette demonstrates newly proven canine abilities like predicting earthquakes, forecasting seizures, heralding low blood sugar levels, and diagnosing breast cancer. Babette joins the ranks of therapy/service dogs who serve their humans as seizure response dogs, dogs who are trained to monitor blood sugar levels and those that calm anxiety to promote wellness and healing. While these remarkable abilities are now well documented, Babette goes a step or two further and is possessed of some almost magical powers. Barbette’s Pack puts committed marriage, mother hood, therapy dogs, and patriotism back on the map. It is a true family book that is hilarious, scary, and inspirational –dedicated to dog lovers everywhere.” 

For the vast majority of this book the above is true. I was engrossed by the stories (albeit fictional), of Babette’s remarkable skills.  Author Kathryn Walter was inspired to write this book from her time spent as a physician’s assistant and as an RN.

Babette is delightful, a charmer, the book overall is engrossing, (I read it in one evening). I found it to be deeply touching, informative, with strong messages pertaining to family, marriage and spirituality.


I am not one that will give a book away at all in a review, as a result, writing this one is tough for me.

When I reached the Chapter XV,  I honestly felt as if I was reading an entirely different book than I had been reading the prior 14 chapters. It troubled me  and upset me so much that I could barely sleep. It was as if the book took a sharp turn, and one that I didn’t enjoy.

I believe it was Walter’s intent to shock, and she did. Some might view that has a highly successful ending, for me? Not so much.

As I said, I don’t want to ruin it for you, you may have a totally different opinion, I suggest you purchase the book and decide for yourself.  It is available on xlibris, amazon and B&N.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Kathryn Walter holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration, a bachelor’s degree in nursing and is a certified physician assistant. Over the past 25 years Kathryn was the director of a university student health center, has practiced family medicine as a licensed physician assistant, and is now practicing pediatric medicine for a primary school district. She currently lives in Chino Hills, CA with her beloved husband, daughter and her two adorable Shih Tzu dogs, Esmeralda and the star of the book, Babette.

In full disclosure, I was not compensated for this review. I was sent a copy of Babette’s Pack in exchange for an honest review.


The GREENIES® Brand to Help Provide Vital Dental Care for Service Dogs #greeniesgives

greenies photo

A service dog’s mouth is one of its most important assets. In order to perform essential daily tasks for their owners a service dog’s mouth must be in its healthiest state. Unfortunately, dental health issues continue to be one of the leading health risks for pets, service dogs included. That’s why The GREENIES® Brand has partnered with the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) to provide grants that help fund the cost of vital dental care procedures for service dogs.

Through the Oral Care for Service Dogs program, board-certified veterinary dentists perform oral health procedures for registered service dogs that have displayed oral and dental diseases that can cause pain or discomfort, compromising the dogs’ health and preventing them from performing their essential duties effectively.

The GREENIES® Brand has pledged a $20,000 grant to support dental care for service dogs and will, through the remainder of October, activate pet owners and bloggers online to spread news about pet oral health as a means to realize the full donation amount:

  • Each new like on The GREENIES® Brand’s page on Facebook will activate a $1 donation to the Oral Care for Service Dogs program
  • Each tweet that uses #greeniesgives on Twitter will activate a $1 donation to the Oral Care for Service
    Dogs program
  • For every blog post written about the importance of pet oral health and how GREENIES® Dental Chews and Treats help to keep pets healthy and happy, The GREENIES® Brand will donate $100 to the Oral Care for Service Dogs program


The GREENIES® Brand team will also regularly share stories and pictures of the service dogs cared for through the program via the brand’s Facebook page,


In full disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I am sharing information that was sent to me by the company to share with my readers.