War dogs recognized at Edmonds Veterans Plaza

By Brian Soergel | Oct 27, 2017
Photo by: Brian Soergel Off Leash Area Edmonds members who helped make the dog memorial possible, at the dedication Oct. 21. They are, from left, Kristie Koomler, Lori Parsons, Glenda Konkol, Diane Buckshnis, Ann Meyring and Julie Nealey.

Dogs aren’t just pets. They’re American heroes.

At a well-attended ribbon cutting Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Edmonds Veterans Plaza, military dogs in all wars were recognized with the unveiling of “K-9 Solider,” a bronze, life-size statue by Lena Toritch.

The statue is the realization of a dream for the all-volunteer Off Leash Area Edmonds group, which received numerous monetary contributions from citizens to make it happen.

The dog, named “Rex,” is a German shepherd wearing a common military working-dog vest. Toritch said the statue tells the story of a rugged Army war dog.

“It is up to the viewer to imagine what his story could be,” she said. “Rex is one of many military working dogs. Each of them has a unique story of courage and sacrifice.”

Councilmember Diane Buckshnis, an OLAE co-founder, explained how “K9 Soldier” came about.

“In the summer of 2013, my husband and I were driving across America and stopped in Montana at the Little Big Horn battlefield, known as Custer's Last Stand. The place was a very moving experience as I walked along the grassy knolls, learning about the battle.

“When I came upon the tombstone dedicated to the Calvary horses I sort of lost it, as during the battle those beautiful animals were used as barricades for the soldiers. About that same time, National Geographic came out with an article on war-dog heroes, and the City Council was also looking into the creation of the Edmonds Veterans Plaza.”

Buckshnis said that raising the funds locally was an astonishing effort that fortunately spanned over the past 13 years though various donors to the nonprofit.

“OLAE ended up having to come up with $8,000, which was a Herculean effort since we only have about $5,000 in the bank in 2014 which we had accumulated from our members and fund-raising events over the years,” she said.

Dogs have been helping soldiers dating back to 1775. In 1942, after World War II, the military finally acknowledged military working dogs, and today there are more than 575 dogs in service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dog continue to help after their tours of duty, as many veterans using dogs for dealing with PTSD.

One of those who use a dog for just this purpose is Mill Creek resident Leah Rosetti, a member of the Edmonds-based chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. The military veteran served two tours of duty in the Gulf Wars.

After being wounded on her final tour, she said she struggled to adjust to civilian life and two years ago attempted suicide.

Rosetti – who this week contributes a Guest View column on page 4 – was at the ribbon-cutting and told those in attendance that her black lab, Sergeant, has helped to save her life.




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