How did the idea for this project
Starline Nunley started with the idea of helping her son, Major Parker Frawley, who is a Longbow, Apache helicopter fighter pilot stationed in Iraq. She asked him if he would like a Cooling Vest to help him cope with the typically very hot temperatures encountered there. His reply was “Mom, I am and we (soldiers) are all right. The military provides for us very well, but dogs have different needs. It is so hot that they are having trouble doing their job and that puts us all in danger.”
Temperatures sometimes reach as high as 140 degrees. The dogs cannot work for more than an hour to an hour-and-a-half before being completely exhausted. Our troops are provided with proper equipment but the dogs are our first line of defense in many situations. They’ve been forgotten and have no protection against the heat, blowing sands and rough terrain.
Starline said “I can’t physically protect my son, and all the other sons and daughters in Iraq. But I can help the dogs who do. These dedicated dogs do this service selflessly and with great courage. Whatever we can do to help them do their job easier is helping to protect our sons and daughters.”
Who is assisting with the fundraising for this project?
It all began with Starline asking the president of her local dog club, the Gem City Dog Obedience Club if they would be willing to purchase one or two vests for MWDs (Military Working Dogs). They were glad to do so and also helped with the initial fundraisers for the first six months.
Since then, the project has taken on a life of its own, expanding beyond Iraq to ALL active war zones. With the Starline leading the way and the help of many volunteers the “Cooling Vest Project” as of July of 2010 has outfitted a total of 209 MWD teams. (This number is constantly changing, check the website for new updates).
The community has opened their hearts to this project and have helped bring it to the news media and national attention through the newspaper and television. With the help of volunteers we’ve spoken at or had booths at the State and County fairs, Street Fairs, 4-H Clubs, Rotary and VFW meetings, lots of Dog Shows, Fish & Game Clubs, Search & Rescue Groups and worked with the Rolling Thunder Veterans Group and the Travelling Vietnam Wall Memorial.
What are the goals for this project?
The initial goal was to provide RPCM® ChillyDog Vests for the 15 MWDs at Marez, Mosul, Iraq. This has since expanded to outfit ALL MWDs in active war zones. The initial gear was expanded to include Doggles to protect their eyes from the blowing sands, Muttluks to protect their feet from the hot sand and asphalt, which is melting in the 140 plus degree temps and sticks to their feet, causing burns, and not allowing them to dissipate their extra body heat since dogs “sweat” through their feet. Plus Mutt Muffs to protect their ears when transported by helicopter, a FURminator to keep their coats in top shape, collapsible lightweight water bowls that can be used for both food and water and allows no water to be wasted, and one toy for them to enjoy during their “down” times.
We have outfitted kennels multiple times as dogs are rotated in and the ones who were there are sent home for R&R. The gear goes with the dogs, since most will be redeployed, they at least, will have their gear. So there will always be a need to outfit the incoming MWDs and replace gear that wears out.
What is the cost to outfit one dog?
The cost per dog is just over $400. This purchases one cooling vest, two cool packs, Doggles, Muttluks, Mutt Muffs, FURminator, a collapsible water bowl, toy, and reward article. We do receive other requests for items such as extendable leashes, harnesses, tracking equipment which wears out, and sturdy storage containers for the dog food (the rats were eating through the bags and into the food faster than the dogs could be fed!) and provide them when we can.
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