Category Archives: For the Soldiers

Keeping on…

SWAT training scenario

SWAT training scenario. ©Dawn Norris, Canines on Duty.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to show how hard these teams train year round to keep our communities and country safe.  Then something else occurred to me – I even get to see and share things that their own families and friends never see.  At a recent training, I photographed in Fort AP Hill, Virginia I was on the hip of a special operations soldier who allowed me to document a building search in the dark of night to experience the adrenaline and skills required to find a suspect in a large building with his dog.  It was a unique experience to be sure.  It was also “just” a training exercise and I witnessed something that even his closest family and friends will never see.  To say that this was special doesn’t cover it.  It was scary, intense, and inspiring.  These soldiers and law enforcement officers go into places with their dogs and it is life or death.  They are the real deal heroes and my dream is to continue to bring those stories into the light to show the world how unique and incredibly brave these teams/units are and they do it with humility and strength and dedication…
It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly
so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt
Being briefed to track a suspect at Fort AP Hill, Virginia

Being briefed to track a suspect at Fort AP Hill, Virginia.  ©Dawn Norris, Canines on Duty

To continue to do the work and show these amazing team in photographs I have a Booster campaign where you can purchase a t-shirt and fund the overhead costs of donating my time to photograph these heroes.  Go here to purchase your t-shirt today!  My goal is to sell 100 t-shirts by August 7th.
With tons of gratitude,
Dawn Norris
Canines on Duty

A Canine Companion for Dallas…

I’ve had a dog in my life every year I’ve been alive dogs are a part of my existence.

(Dallas and Honeycomb, a Belgian Malinois visit.  Honeycomb is a canine good citizen.)

I was severely wounded in Iraq in 2003 by a suicide car bomb.

“He was entering the city of Fallujah when Rosacker spotted a car speeding toward his vehicle. When the car refused to stop he opened fire with his rifle, and the two vehicles came to a stop side by side. “The driver looked up at me, smiled and pushed the button,” Rosacker said. The explosion threw him from the vehicle and caused traumatic brain injury but then a firefight erupted around him between insurgents and Marines.

That’s when Rosacker was shot in the stomach and at one point was declared dead before being revived.” (Jack Minch, )

(photo above is the vehicle after the car bombing)

Dallas explained, “I was even pronounced dead and flown to Baghdad in a body bag and upon my arrival they unzip the bag I’m breathing and say “what’s up?” I had a sense of humor for some reason.  I was also in a ton of pain since I was also shot in the stomach.  I was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from the bomb.”

Dallas was working on a contract basis during his tours in Iraq for the Department of Defense (though according to Marines “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”) at the time of the car bombing.

(photo of Dallas the morning of the car bombing in Iraq)

Prior to the tours in Iraq while Dallas was an active US Marine where the US Government had him working on counter narcotics on the US/Mexican border, overseeing security for nuclear submarines during refueling,  and completed multiple hostage rescues anywhere the Marines were hailed to do so throughout the world.  During his active service as US Marine, Dallas received the Purple Heart.

(Dallas in full gear.)

(Dallas in LA working as a bodyguard.)

“Seven years go by and I have a life with my girlfriend and working as a bodyguard for celebrities – Johnny Depp, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan.  One day I’m playing volleyball on the beach in Los Angeles and I become dizzy and pass out.  I’m rushed to the ER where the doctors said I flatlined twice in the ER and won’t make it thru the night.  I suffered a massive stroke and am paralyzed from the neck down and will never walk again but I’m a Marine and you can’t keep a good Marine down.”

With therapy I got my right side back and am still paralyzed on my left but a lot of my fellow veterans are getting assistance animals that help them with picking things up, opening doors, turning on lights, they also help with lowering blood pressure plus they are good company and good for exercise.  I just sit at home a lot.  I suffer from PTSD and depression.  I know they have dogs out there that help with controlling that.

Born and raised with a younger sister and a younger brother in Dallas, Texas, Dallas (a nickname given to him by his Marine unit) comes from a US Marine lineage spanning back 135 years.  His father (Lt. Col. Ret.) and his grandfather (Col. Ret.) were Marines before him.  It’s in his blood, a true Marine – to the core.  Dallas’ goal is to get back on his Harley Davidson and ride.  The smile that comes over his face is priceless as he shows me his old ride prior to the injuries which caused him to sell his bike.  There is no doubt within his eyes as he explains to me that he will ride again…

(Dallas age 19)

When I asked Dallas about his incredible journey through all the injuries and truma he says without hesitation, “I’d do it all over again.  It was my job.”  Despite what Dallas has endured, his stature remains tall (over 6 feet tall), and you see the huge heart come through in the presence of those he cares about.  When a good friend of his stopped by during our visit, he lit up and expressed to me how much he wants a future with a wife and his own children.  At age 41, Dallas is determined to be back to his old self – the days of a super fit motorcycle riding protector of others.  I’ve known Dallas for several years now and he’s gone from not walking bound to a wheelchair to answering the door yesterday under his own power, upright no wheelchair, and with that cocky yet warm Marine smile and the Texas drawl, “Hey Girl!”

Even though Dallas has PTSD it doesn’t stop him from participating in sports through the disabled veterans adaptive sports programs by swimming, skiing, biking and more.  He even got to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game back in 2011!  While maintaining an allegiance to is home teams back in Texas, he is a bit of a converted New England sports fan who wants to talk football and baseball.  He’s a Bruins fan as well having met Lucic and Bergeron on a recent visit to the TD Garden where he was admired by the Bruins players for his dedication and service to the United States.

To aid in his healing and rehabilitation, Dallas desires a canine companion to keep the PTSD at bay and help him with basic needs from opening doors (as his left side is still weak) to completing some of the everyday things we all take for granted.  It’s been a struggle to get a dog because of all the red tape that the VA has in place.

If you know of anyone who can help with getting a dog for Dallas, get in touch with me and I’ll connect you to Dallas.