Those who attend the Open House for Almosta Ranch K9 Learning Center on October 20 will have the chance to meet a real K9 officer and learn more about the challenges of retired military dogs.
Military canine handler Ryan Albaugh will hold a protection demo at 11:30 with dog Rocky. Rocky worked with Ryan to protect friendly forces from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010-14, also working security in Kabul at the US Embassy. As owner of a dog training and security consulting business, and a graduate of Lackland Airfare Base Dog Handler, Ryan is highly skilled in professional dog training, and will further share his experiences at a 1pm presentation.
“For me, and I’m sure many, many others, I have always felt a strong responsibility to support our military service members and veterans. They sacrifice so much for us, helping them in return is the least I can do,” said owner Patti Christensen. “Recently in the news, there has been articles about our Military K9 Handlers having to leave their partners in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ryan Albaugh experienced this as well. It has taken him over a year and lots of red tape to be able to reunite with Rocky.”
Identifying explosive threats was hot and physically demanding work which took a toll on Rocky’s health. Following service at the embassy, Rocky and Ryan were separated for a year once Ryan returned to the U.S.
Christensen met Ryan earlier this year when she took her two year-old Golden Retriever, Tali, for additional training.
“Tali had already passed Beginning and Advanced Obedience Classes locally and she is very well behaved,” said Christensen. “I was blown away by Ryan’s skills. He had Tali 100% engaged, excited and learning new skills within 60 minutes. She was so excited to learn and we both had a fantastic time.”
She was deeply touched by Ryan’s journey with Rocky. “I felt many other people would be interested in it as well. When I decided on doing an Open House for the new business, Ryan stood out as a wonderful participant,” said Christensen. “We feel very fortunate that Ryan graciously accepted our invitation to come to the Almosta Ranch K9 Learning Center Open House.”
Now reunited with Ryan, Rocky had developed serious, ongoing health problems that mean steep out-of-pocket costs. The K9 received ear surgery but will need to deal with long term ear infections. Significant dental problems will need continual treatment. Rocky also has symptoms of PTSD but is acclimating to being off-duty thanks to Ryan’s skillful handling.
Almosta Ranch has started a GoFundMe page to help Ryan with vet expenses. “Ryan has never asked for any compensation for his Open House participation, even though he is making a round trip from Minneapolis and providing hours of his extremely high-level dog expertise,” said Christensen. “Ryan currently spends approximately $900 per month on Rocky’s medical needs (plus Rocky will need a hip surgery in the near future) and yet he gives generously of his time and talents. That is the type of person I want to support!”
Ryan along with Rocky’s veterinarian are working to create a non-profit to address the costly expenses of retired working dogs, whose care are not covered by VA or medical care options.
Visit Rocky at the Open House at Almosta Ranch, located at 10747 CTH BB.