Quilters honor Lynchburg veteran and his bomb-sniffing dog
- [Jan in VA - left] Josh Rowland (center) [Anne, Jan's mother - right] and his explosives-sniffing black Labrador Kate, receive quilts from the Patches 'n Pieces Quilt Club at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Sunday for their service in Afghanistan. The News & Advance
Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 4:15 am | Updated: 8:51 am, Mon Mar 18, 2013.
Quilters honor Lynchburg veteran and his bomb-sniffing dog newsadvance.com
It all started with a simple stitch and a sense of gratitude.
After reading a news story about Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Rowland — a Lynchburg native who served a seven-month tour in Afghanistan last year — and his bomb-sniffing Labrador, Kate, local quilter Jan Bennett-Collier [Jan in VA] wanted to make the pair something special.
The quilts — one made by Bennett-Collier and her mother, Anne Jackson, and the other by retired Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clyde Savage — were presented to Rowland and his canine companion at Holy Cross Regional Catholic School during the Patches ‘n Pieces Triennial Quilt Show on Sunday.
“It was the first time I thought about our animal soldiers suffering as much as our human soldiers,” Bennett-Collier said of her reaction to Kate’s story. “It really touched me.”
The 6-year-old black lab, who served several tours in Afghanistan, is believed to have canine post-traumatic stress disorder, Rowland said.
Four months into their tour together, he noticed she was acting different while out on patrol. Loud noises startled her. She was no longer sleeping well and became more reluctant to leave his side.
Her transformation was not the result of one terrifying moment in particular, but possibly the result of trauma and uncertainty brought on by the sharp sounds and high emotion often characteristic of a war zone.
“Once you’re a handler, and you’re with your dog 24/7, you know when there’s something wrong,” said Rowland, 21. “Believe it or not, your dog is like a human being to you. You can read them extremely well. And she was there before me. So, technically, that was like a second deployment, back to back.”
He requested to have her retired from duty, which is common when these four-legged, wet-nosed troops used to sniff out mines, track down enemy fighters and clear buildings are struggling with the mental strains of combat.
Rowland finished the next few months of his tour with a different dog. After he was transferred to Camp Lejeune, N.C., in August, he started the process of trying to get Kate back and, later, was able to adopt her.
They were reunited last month.
Savage, who served in Vietnam, said he understands what it’s like to be separated from the things that you care about during war-time and kept that in mind while crafting the quilt. He used the color yellow in a portion of it to symbolize Rowland’s return to the States.
“It can be so lonely,” Savage said of serving overseas. “I had my happiest moment as a quilter today, seeing his face when we gave it to him. I was glad to do it.”
[Anne] Jackson seemed to agree. [This is my mother!]
She fashioned her quilt with a couple of doggy must haves — a large bone and a food bowl with Kate’s name on it.
“I’m a dog lover,” Jackson said. “They need to be honored in the service, too. I hope she can put it in her bed and sleep on it.”
Rowland doesn’t think that will be a problem.
“It’s definitely going to get used,” he said. “This is my first time at a quilt show. It’s pretty cool what people can do with their imagination.”
Members of the quilt guild who were present at the show spent hours talking with Josh and loving on Kate. The gift quilt presentation was a big hit with everyone! Josh looked at all the quilts and asked many smart questions; he was thoroughly impressed with us quilters. What a joy this day was!
Jan in VA