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Duty Dogs: Part Two - KOAM TV 7

Duty Dogs: Part Two

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Dog breeder Dave Miller talks about Newfoundlands. 


"They're just big 'ol' loving... well... They love everybody."

Miller says the breed has a great disposition, making them an ideal fit for his latest project.

"To provide therapy dogs to veterans at no cost to them."

The endeavor started in southwest Missouri and has had an national impact. Miller first sent one of his Newfoundland puppies to be trained and certified as a therapy dog. The dog then went to a Marine in Connecticut.  

"He said, before I got Nugget, I wanted to stay in the house all the time. I didn't want to go out, i didn't' want to meet anybody. I didn't want to be in any kind of a stressful situation. He said now with Nugget, I can do anything I want to do because he's right there with me."

Now, miller is determined to pair every veteran with a dog. He's working with other local breeders, including kenneth anderson, who is raising german Blabradors for veterans.  

He's collaborating with a local veterans group.  

"For us that's so huge to be able to have that availability with the breeders who want to offer their dogs to us and the training that they are wanting to offer to the veterans," said Amy Donaldson. 

Donaldson is the co-founder of Compass Quest, a Joplin-based outreach organization that provides supportive services for veterans, ranging from VA paperwork assistance to pairing veterans with dogs. A veteran of the air force, she says dogs offer something unique.

"Sometimes when things are so low, the dogs understand how you're feeling. They know how to come to you. They like the way salt tastes, so when you're crying, they'll come and lick your tears from you face." 

Donaldson and her husband ted are working via Compass Quest to open a veterans center in downtown Joplin where they will always have a dog present to comfort veterans who are visiting.  

"I've talked to several veterans that say, had it not been for my dog, I would have been gone," said Donaldson. "For family members, we don't want that. For you, we don't want that. We want to keep our friends here. People who have these amazing stories and have done these amazing things, they can get better. We will work for them to get them better. They don't need to do it on their own."

Through his group and connections with breeders, trainers and other veterans, Miller is working to provide the therapy dogs at no charge. He says this is his way of giving back.  

"If we didn't have our veterans, if they hadn't made the sacrifices that they have made, we wouldn't be able to do the things we do."


Miller's therapy dog group is called Heartland Canines for Veterans. For more information on the dogs, as well as the veterans center, visit here


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