In fall 2014, Leslie Pearce-Keating’s English classes at Ohio State ATI in Wooster adopted the military working dogs of Afghanistan as a special project. The drive began when student Samantha Appleman introduced Pearce-Keating and her classes to Todd Coning, a retired airman who trained military dogs for 20 years.
After the classes skyped Coning, they decided to start a collection for the working dogs. Three huge boxes of bones, toys and treats were collected from students and faculty, along with 15 donated copies of Hannah’s Memory Box, Pearce-Keating’s memoir about her therapy dog. The Monday before autumn semester finals, six of Pearce-Keating's students met at her house to wrap gifts, make signs for the soldiers wishing them a happy holiday and help pack the items. Key students in the endeavor were Appleman, Paige McAtee, Joe Metheney, Emily Daniel and Rachel Garrison.
Thanks to FFA, the $97 postage was paid, allowing the parcels to arrive at several Afghanistan posts two days before Christmas. The dog handlers were thrilled by the arrival, which allowed them to choose special holiday gifts for their best friends. Since Pearce-Keating’s topic this year is the animal-human connection, she plans to continue the efforts to furnish much-needed toys and treats for the dogs that help to keep our servicemen and women safe.