22 in 22 – Follow Me on My Journey
My Journey Leads Me to Tehapachi, CA, Home of Marley’s Mutts and Camp Golden Years Dog Rescue(s)
Whenever I share my story (opens in a new window) of meeting Jackie and becoming her business partner, I explain how the collective experience saved my life.
The truth is, after my honorable discharge from the Navy in 1999, I felt lost. My service experience left me troubled in ways I couldn’t identify or manage. I was unable to see my way to any particular career path and I struggled personally outside the strict military lifestyle to which I’d become accustomed.
I worked construction for a while to pay the bills, but after-hours I spent my time hanging out in bars and drinking to excess. Eventually, I realized I was depressed—suffering from PTSD— using alcohol to help escape the darkness in my mind. It was a destructive cycle during which I lost my job, my home, loved ones and friends.
It’s not a time I’m proud of, but I know it’s a story familiar to many of my fellow servicemen and women. Thankfully, I sought help for my depression and my alcohol addiction. I started taking steps towards a new life by enrolling in college. Then Jackie and I met on a blind date and, since that memorable night, I have not taken a drink or been disabled by depression.
It has been a goal of mine to one day share my story to encourage others struggling with the same challenges I have faced. I never expected that my role with Fetch! would bring my personal story to the forefront of our business.
Recently I reached out to a man by the name of Zach Skow (opens in a new window). He is an amazing individual who was on his death bed as a direct result of his struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Having been diagnosed with end-stage liver failure, and unable to qualify for a transplant, he found a true purpose in his dogs and established a nationally respected pet rescue program in Kern County, California called, “Marley’s Mutts (opens in a new window),” that has saved more than 5,000 rescue dogs, as well as his own life.
Zach’s story resonated with me both in his addiction struggles and his passion for dogs. That’s what encouraged me to contact him and share my similar life experiences. To my amazement Zach responded, and we have spent the last year connecting through email and phone.
Recently Zach invited me to come to his ranch in Tehapachi, Ca to help launch his #22in22 campaign in conjunction with Vet Friends Foundation (opens in a new window) with a goal of rescuing 22 at-risk shelter dogs in 22 days. The purpose of his initiative is to bring awareness to the suicide crisis plaguing our service men and women returning from combat.
To say I am honored to be part of this rescue effort falls far short of its impact in my life. There is no doubt in my mind that this time I spend with Zach and his team will be transformative, not only for me personally, but for the long-term success of Fetch!.
As I travel this journey, I will share photos and posts across our social media pages. Please join me in this amazing experience of rescuing shelter dogs and recognizing all that our service women and men give of themselves in defense of our nation.