9/24/17 OPERATION BANDIT: Is a go; his transport will start early on Thursday morning. An Army Veteran, Ian Carter, has stepped forward to drive Bandit up to meet Derek, and he does this though he's going through his own tough times. He's currently homeless and working to get back on his feet but knew this was something he could do and was willing to expend his limited resources to do it. But we all agreed this was too much and are funding his fuel and lodgings to make to make Bandit's Freedom Ride possible. Additionally, we'll be seeing how we can return the favor to find him a place to live and other possible resources available.
9/26/17 SIDE NOTE: We're ecstatic to say RWB Dog TAGS was able to help Ian locate a place to live.
9/27/17 OPERATION BANDIT: Status check performed and all parties are a go.
9/28/17 OPERATION BANDIT: Ian and Bandit loaded up and hit the road at 05:30, they made it to Derek around 13:00. From the pictures and video it was a successful match and we are thrilled for both of them.
Derek and Ian found out through chatting; they held complementary positions when in the Army. Derek as a forward observer and Ian was a Five Direction Coordinator. They both found it ironic to be in the roles they were today.
Derek and Bandit made it home safely and are getting some rest, we'll be checking in with them frequently.
Thank you again to M.P. Leonard, Dena K. Van De Vanter, Cody Avery, Becky Jolly, Gail Fogel Pierce, Dade Newell, Billy Simmons, Officer Nathan Naumann and family, Ian Carter, the Oath Keepers, and the RWB Dog TAGS family for helping with this process of uniting Derek and Bandit as a team.
Highlights of the Mission to Unite Derek & Bandit
9/23/17 UPDATE ON OPERATION BANDIT: Dade (RWB member in eastern Florida) reached out to his contacts and through word of mouth reached Billy Simmons the of the Louisiana Oath Keepers and their Southeast Coordinator who was in turn able to tap a Marine Veteran and former K9 handler on the Pinellas Park Police Department. Officer Nathan Naumann retrieved Bandit this morning and took him home as a houseguest until his route north to Derek is ironed out and nailed down. I've never been so happy to hear the words "Ma'am, the Marines have landed. You tell them, we've got this and will take care of our brother (Bandit) in need." They are now looking to see if they can tap additional shoulders to relay him to Derek sooner than our last estimated ETA.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I've always known the military family will pull together when needed and it is an amazing experience to be standing in the midst of it when everything starts to come together. We can't thank any of you enough for the encouragement, help, ideas, outreach, or just checking in on this process. It's been a hell of a roller coaster for all involved and we're all cheering for a happy beginning for Derek and Bandit together.
Then a little bit ago; I got the call. They were wondering if I still needed a service dog and was I still interested in Bandit, to which I answered ABSOLUTELY. Turns out something I'd wanted worked out. See, a few weeks ago, someone sent me a link to a poor service dog down in Florida that had been abandoned in a kill shelter. His name was Bandit. I could tell a lot by just the photo; he looked alone and sad, kind of like he had no one and just wished he had someone to rescue him and love him like they cared. I thought to myself, holy crap that dog is me! We have to find each other. I put in all the work I possibly could to make it happen but he ended up with someone else (sidenote: there were a lot of moving parts and people in this frantic process), so I was sad, but happy for him.
Well due to unforeseen things that home didn't suit the people or Bandit. So RWB Dog TAGS wanted to know if I was still interested in giving Bandit a forever home. My only reply is “Hell Yes!”
I can't wait to meet my new battle buddy and partner. I am happier and more excited right now than I've been in a long time. Thank you guys so much. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Y'all have no idea how much this means to me and how happy I am. I honestly can't thank you enough.
So excited I can't sleep.... I can't wait for my big boy to get here. I could not have asked for a better group of folks. Y'all just walked in and completely changed the bad circumstances in my life to something so much better. Glad to have so many great new friends watching my 6.
9/13/17 Derek: I can't wait for Bandit to get here. I arrived in Chattanooga today. The days drag by waiting but I know it's totally worth the wait. I am so glad help is on the way
9/14/17 RWB: We reached out, with the following plea, on every pet transport site we could find and took referrals for every person who might have a way to accomplish our goal.
Good morning all! We're in need of your help!! We need to transport Bandit from Lakeland FL area to Chattanooga TN area. Does anyone have family, friends, etc. that may be able to help us with different parts/legs of the trip? Please everyone let us know of any ideas you may have.
9/14/17 RWB: We've had many obstacles, including hurricane Irma, but he's going to get there thanks to the know-how and assistance of Becky Jolly and Gail Fogel Pierce. These ladies are something special and we have a ton of admiration for their dedication in helping animals get to better homes and families.
9/15/17 UPDATE ON BANDIT: As of this evening, we have secured transport for Bandit. One last step to take will be getting him a health certificate so he's legal for travel. Have reached out to a number of veterinarians around his current area to try and set this up as soon as possible. Thank you everyone who offered suggestions, help, and reached out to contacts. 🐾 🐾
9/16/17 UPDATE ON BANDIT: Hallelujah! Found a veterinarian for Bandit and he has an appointment for this morning. [Now I'm going to take a nap; I'm so not a morning person, there should only be one 5:00 in a day and it should be followed by a PM. LOL (Yes, as the Army guys pointed out there is only one 05:00 the other is 17:00 – hey, don’t pick on the girl working on 3 hours sleep.)]
9/19/17 UPDATE ON BANDIT: Apparently he really is a dog for the military people, sudden changes in orders, cancelled leave, etc. The lady who was going to transport him this weekend was admitted to the hospital and can't get to FL this weekend. So plans have been revised to have her or one of her people transport him the following weekend. Would someone tempt Murphy into playing elsewhere?
Gail is an amazing woman who rescues and transports dogs regularly all over the eastern half of the U.S. and I know after just a couple of conversations with her this was devastating to her. She does what she says and no one gets in her way. Our thoughts and prayers go to her for a speedy recovery.
Pup In Training
9/7/17 From Derek: So tonight was kinda great. I was driving down the road missing my girl Maggie, which was my service dog that's gone and wondering if I would ever be able to get another service dog when my phone let out a ding letting me know I had a message on my messenger. So I opened it up and it said, “Derek can I have your number because the folks at RWB Dog TAGS would like to speak with you". So I gladly gave my number.
Duchess is our pup in training; she was a rescue pup from a surprise litter in Parowan UT. Duchess is Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, and a little bit of mystery. She's really come into her personality (hence the name Duchess). She has no fear and regularly plays with our head trainer's German Shepherds. We know when she's ready there will be a Veteran lucky to receive her.