Sunday, April 7, 2013

Honoring a Veteran and His Dog ...

Bennett-Collier (L), Rowland (center), Jackson (R) with Kate
Recently, quilters in Lynchburg [VA] honored a veteran and his bomb-sniffing dog, Kate.  Marine Lance Corporal Josh Rowland, 21, served a seven month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2012 with Kate.  The six year old Labrador retriever has served several tours in Afghanistan and is believed to have canine post-traumatic stress disorder.  It was four months into their last tour that Rowland noticed that Kate was no longer sleeping well and was reluctant to leave his side.  Rowland thinks that the changes in Kate were not brought on by one terrifying experience but possibly from trauma and continuing uncertainty resulting from the sharp sounds and high emotions often found in war zones.

“Once you’re a handler, and you’re with your dog 24/7, you know when there’s something wrong.  Believe it or not, your dog is like a human being to you.  You can read them extremely well.  And she was there before me.  So, technically, that was like a second deployment, back to back [for her].”

Rowland then requested that Kate be retired from duty and he finished out his tour with another canine explosives-sniffing companion.  When he returned Stateside, Rowland began the process of locating Kate and was later able to adopt her.  They were reunited in February 2013.

Jan Bennett-Collier read a news article about Rowland and Kate and was so moved by the story that she and her mother, Anne Jackson, immediately set about making them a quilt.  Bennett-Collier said: “It was the first time I thought about our animal soldiers suffering as much as our human soldiers.  It really touched me.”

Retired Air Force Tech Sgt Clyde Savage made a second quilt and the two were presented to Rowland and Kate during the Patches ‘n Pieces Triennial Quilt Show in March 2013.

Savage, a Vietnam veteran, stated that he understood what it’s like to be separated from the things that you care about during war-time and that he had kept that in mind when crafting Rowland’s quilt.  He used the color yellow in a portion of it to symbolize Rowland’s return to the United States.

Jackson and Bennett-Collier included several “doggy must-haves” in Kate’s quilt – including a large bone and a food bowl with Kate’s name on it.  “I’m a dog-lover,” said Jackson. “They need to be honored in the service, too.  I hope she can put it in her bed and sleep on it.”

Rowland advised that he didn’t think that would be a problem!


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