Veterans, First-Responders, and Pets in Space
Outside of the lovely stories, my favorite part of the Pets in Space® anthologies is their support of the Hero Dogs charity. Every year, the anthology has donated at least 10% of the first month's profits to this excellent cause—over $15,000 in the last four years. Hero Dogs provides trained service dogs to U.S. veterans and first-responders to help them regain independence and improve quality of life.
Modern Medicine is Great, But…
Modern medicine has made enormous strides in treating injuries that used to kill soldiers, sailors, police, and firefighters by the thousands. Modern materials science has done its part, too, in creating custom materials that solve problems. For example, we can 3-D print scaffolding on which to grow bone tissue for grafting. Or craft prosthetic limbs that incorporate articulation, strength, and intelligence.
However, we aren't so good at helping disabled people navigate a modern infrastructure designed for the able-bodied. That's where a trained service dog can make the difference in the world. Since both humans and canines are social creatures, it's a partnership like no other. Dogs don't care what we look like, they care what we do.
First Responders in Space
I especially love that Hero Dogs supports both disabled veterans and first-responders. Many years ago, I trained as an emergency medical technician as part of a search-and-rescue organization. Life and circumstances took me on another path, but I never forgot the people I met. First-responders are all slightly crazy. They have to be, because it's usually smarter to run away from the burning building. They also inspired my story in this year's anthology, Galactic Search and Rescue. To my mind, first-responders and Pets in Space are a perfect match, but I could be biased.
First-responders risk life and limb each time they do their job. If they get hurt or permanently disabled in service to the rest of us, they deserve everything we can do for them so they can live independently.