By Beth Fisher, Morning News Anchor for KTNV Channel 13
Photography by Linda Quackenboss
We all have gifts, and we’re supposed to use those God-given gifts to serve others. But sometimes it’s not easy sorting out what our gifts are or how we should use them. For example, what if you’re a dog trainer? I happen to know one, Janet Edberg, who is changing the world for local veterans.
Edberg currently trains dogs at Smarty Paws owned by Donna Foreman, another incredible Las Vegas woman. Edberg became interested in training service dogs when she needed one for her multiple sclerosis. Soon, Edberg realized these animals could also help people whose injuries are less obvious such as soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “I see how these dogs enhance people’s lives,” said Edberg.
Edberg knew dogs like Lilly and Foster could help veterans. We met a few of those soldiers at SmartyPaws recently. Brandon Kleindeaux and Tabitha Davis served our country proudly in the Navy, but both returned from their wartime service with deep scars. Post-traumatic stress disorder kept them both homebound—afraid to be around people or inside stores. And, even though Davis has no memory of the war, night terrors keep her awake.
“We were the ones who put out the first bombs after 9-11. I don’t remember it. But I wonder if the things in my dreams really happened. When I fall asleep, I wake up screaming,” she said. That was before Davis got her tiny service dog, Lilly. “Lilly is my savior girl. I was really lucky to get her. She wakes me up when I have terrors. She loves me and comforts me. It’s hard for me to go grocery shopping and to be in loud places. I get anxious and she knows when I need comfort; she calms me.”
Kleindeaux actually says his service dog, Foster, saved his life, “He is my lifeblood. He keeps me sane and wakes me up when he senses a nightmare coming on. When I feel threatened during the day, he nudges me and keeps me focused on him.” A year ago, Kleindeaux was contemplating suicide. He says, “The only reason I didn’t kill myself was because of Foster. He’s my emotional support; my companion. He senses my pain.”
Cory Ossana from the Elk’s lodge wrote a grant to the National Elks Foundation, requesting funding for Edberg’s training program. “Anybody who’s given their life to defend our country to do the great things that veterans have done and given us the freedoms we have, they deserve everything they get,” said Ossana.
The Elks agreed and awarded SmartyPaws $1,000. That grant enabled Edberg to train five dogs, including Lilly and Foster. But she has a waiting list of more veterans wanting dogs and there are plenty of shelter dogs that need them too.
I had the honor of telling Edberg’s story on my show, “Good Morning Las Vegas.” The National Elks Lodge saw the news story and immediately sent more money. That’s just one reason why I love my job.
Now Edberg is training even more animals and helping even more veterans and she’s thrilled. “I see the life change that happens. I see what happens from beginning to end the joy and happiness these dogs bring to people.”
Beth Fisher is a morning anchor for Channel 13 Action News. She reports on the people who make Las Vegas a better place to live. Beth’s stories air at 5:45 and 6:45 a.m. every day on “Good Morning Las Vegas.”