|Elaine Schmiedeshoff with Ryan, who was named after her son.|
Fleet bears the name of one soldier and serves as the legs for another. He is a 15-week old Golden Retriever who is being trained as a service dog for Josh Craven. Craven lost one leg while serving as a soldier in Iraq and has had six surgeries on the other leg. When he returns home from Walter Reed Medical Hospital in a few months, he will be joined by Fleet who by then will be a fully trained service dog. Fleet’s jobs will include opening doors, turning on lights, getting food from the fridge and giving Craven his keys.
Fleet was named after James Fleet McClamrock, a soldier who was killed in Iraq last September. McClamrock’s parents feel that every time Craven says his dog’s name, it’s a tribute to their son, and that he will be remembered.
Fleet is one of many dogs who owes his training to the Carolina Patriot Rovers , an organization dedicated to providing service dogs to veterans in need of one, and therapy dogs to those veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Carolina Patriot Rovers rely on donations since they do not charge the servicemen and servicewomen for the dogs or the dogs’ training, which costs thousands of dollars. The dogs are named after either soldiers who have lost their lives in service to the country or after military groups. The names of some of the dogs trained recently are Ryan (after Christopher Ryan Barton), Noah (after Noah M. Pier), Wyatt (after Christopher Wyatt McCullough), Ivy (named for the 4th Infantry Division), and Deuce (named for the 22nd Infantry.)
“One of the things in losing a child is you never want them to be forgotten,” says Susan McClamrock, whose son’s middle name was Fleet.” These dogs help veterans as both service dogs and therapy dogs and honor fallen soldiers , too, which is a comfort to the families who have lost a loved one.