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Portrait of Dena


Dena was originally from Crowley, Louisiana, USA. She moved to the Los Angeles California, USA area because of the weather. At the time of this posting, she lived in Antelope Valley which was much more conducive to her asthma issues than living in
Los Angeles.

In the past, Dena had a disabling fall that required neck surgery. Dena was a retired registered nurse, RN, and at the time of this interview, did social work.  Dena studied general sociology at California State University Northridge and studied social work at University of Southern California (USC) where she received a Masters in Social Work (MSW.)

Dena acquired her female German Shepherd dog, Gracie, from a breeder, which she normally would not do. But Dena believed that since Gracie had a lot of problems, had someone else adopted Gracie, she would have ended up as an owner surrender, most likely in the pound. Dena had patience for Gracie and kept her and loved her. It was when Dena realized just how serious Gracie’s fear problems were, that she started training in agility with Mary, from Palmdale, California, USA.

Mary helped Gracie get over her problems by training her (along with Dena, of course) to participate in agility. When Gracie had it all together, Dena started her male dog, Harlem, a Siberian Husky, in agility training (see below). This was approximately three months prior to my meeting Dena. The fun run, where we met, was just the perfect venue and level for him (see my Portrait of Jean for more info about the fun run.)

Harlem was Dena’s daughter’s seizure dog. Her daughter was having 25 to 30 seizures a day and Harlem saved her life. Due to Harlem’s unique talents, Dena and Harlem were also training to be a therapy dog team with the goal of volunteering with pediatric oncology patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Harlem was very large for a husky and looked like a small Malamute to me. He was adorable and lovable and very friendly. Dena was a great person who I would be honored to have as a friend.

Harlem and Dena. What a team

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Dustin



This is Dustin, originally from Gainesville FL, USA, but at the time of this posting, homeless, in a mini-tent city, on Selma Ave, in Hollywood, CA, USA, two blocks from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dustin had his dog, Tubs, with him, see photo below. Homeless people who kept their dogs were heroes because so many gave their dogs up to a”shelter” when life proved to be difficult. “Shelters” murdered dogs when they were there too long.

Tubs was a seizure alert animal. Dustin had her for two years and four months. Dustin commented on her training, “She was basically born to it. There’s nothing that I have to teach her. She’s a natural at it.”

When Dustin was about to have a seizure, Tubs whined, cried and climbed on his lap. Dustin interpreted this behavior as Tubs telling him to sit down before he would fall. Dustin loved her and fed Tubs before he fed himself.

Dustin was homeless on and off since he was thirteen years old. When he was able to work, he worked as a construction worker or a cook. He was in the Marine Corps, from 1999-2007, as a forward Observer, doing surveillance, and target acquisition. He was physically disabled: had a blown his knees and shoulders, had fractured ribs, slipped disks, and had seizures.

He received nothing from the VA (for those of you who don’t know, the VA stood for The US Department of Veterans Affairs that provided patient care and federal benefits to US military veterans and their dependents.) He received  no assistance because he “got fired for doing the wrong right thing.”

Dustin does not get benefits because he interrupted a full colonel, in a flight suit, on the flight deck of a carrier, attempting to rape a female. After Dustin intervened, the Colonel acquired numerous broken bones. Thus, Dustin was dishonorably discharged. The offender was retired. The female received the billeting of her choice.

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The day I met Dustin, I calculated I would post this portrait up on Inauguration Day. So I’m going to get a bit political.

To my fellow Americans who hate Trump, who are afraid of Trump, who mislabel people who voted for Trump as “Trump supporters” when we just knew, inconclusively, that Hillary Clinton did not qualify for public office, I want you to know, we are as afraid as you.

All of us were put through the ringer for the past eight years, “the reign of terror.” Due to your unpredictable, immature reactions, we had to shut up and pretend everything was fine as the world destabilized around us.  If you think this is inaccurate, don’t just criticize or argue with me. I can go to Facebook for that. Please, research first; but not on main-stream media. Please, go on Twitter, or on any platform where you can reach out to random, individual people from Africa, from Europe, from the mid-East, and yes, from Russia and find out what they think of Obama/Hillary and the past eight years.

When an American votes for President, it’s not like voting for local office. One should not be selfish, thinking only of your own needs and beliefs. One must at the needs of the whole world, because we are world leaders. We impact everyone. Hillary was a terrible candidate. That’s why she lost.

We, the ones who voted for Trump, have no idea which way this will go, but we try to be positive. The next 100 days will be crucial.  I just heard the Inauguration speech, and I would like to quote our new President, “When You Open Your Heart to Patriotism, There Is No Room for Prejudice…You will never be ignored again.”

As I spoke to Dustin I asked him if there was something he wanted to tell the world, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Having met someone with such a good heart,  who was SHAT on by the Obama administration, by the policies brought down by Obama, the former commander-in-chief, I just hope that President Trump doesn’t “ignore” the homeless, the disabled and the ALSO non-humans of our nation.

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Thank you for being part of my blog and my Portrait Project. It is my honor to share these phenomenal experiences of these amazing people. I’m giving people who may never have an article written about them an opportunity to be spotlighted online. When I wake up in the morning, I look at my WordPress stats, and someone from India, Africa, Germany or Iceland read my blog. It’s exciting. Thank you so much for being there, wherever, whenever you are.


Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.