Rod and Valerie Routen, Wellborne, Iowa stopped in Pratt to meet service dog customers from Colorado and Wichita, Kans. They brought with them Buddy, Belle, and Beau, and a few cute AKC registered yellow lab puppies that will be trained to work with veterans, a cerebral palsey child and others.
The city of Pratt is a crossroads for goods traveling across the state hauled by trucks, trains and other vehicles. On Monday a home at 309 Stout Street was a meeting point for service dogs from Iowa making their way to new homes in Wichita and Colorado.
"We met in Pratt because my mother lives here," said Sonrise Helpers Service Dogs owner Rod Routen. "But it was a good halfway point for our puppy going to Colorado."
Routen and his wife Valorie, brought Buddy, Belle, and Beau, their constant companions, as well as several AKC registered yellow lab puppies (offspring of Buddy and Belle) from their home in Wellmore, Iowa to meet their new owners, stopping for a while to visit with Phylis Routen in Pratt.
"I was born and raised in Fowler, and went to Barclay College at Haviland, so I'm a Kansas boy," Rod Routen said. "Coming here is like coming home."
The dogs weren't quite so sure, as they waited patiently in their colored service vests, for the owner of the youngest canine and newest service dog apprentice, to show up.
"The CGC patches on their vests show that they are certified as companions and search and rescue dogs," Routen said. "Our dogs go to veterans with PTSD or other mental health issues, to children with cerebral palsy or other seizure illnesses, or to anyone who needs this type of help. We have placed puppies from Las Vegas to Louisiana to Wisconsin."
Routen said he used to be a service dog trainer but that took a great deal of time committment. Now retired, he enjoys raising yellow labs and traveling around the country to place them with different clients and agencies in need of their services. The three older dogs are part of the family and often travel with him and his wife.
"Beau is the most affectionate of the three," he said. "He is the youngest. Buddy has been my constant companion and Belle is the one that wakes me from nightmares or alerts me to problems."
Routen suffers from PTSD himself and began raising the dogs when he was on the beneficial end of a canine therapy program.
"We have a Facebook group with 1,112 members under Sonrise Helpers Service Dogs," he said. "When I see the posts that people put on there about how the dogs help them, I know this is something more people should have access to. There was a non-verbal girl that got one of our puppies and began talking and laughing. There was a veteran who tried to kill himself several times that got a dog and is now involved with that dog and loving life again. It's important for people to understand how important service dogs are."
The dogs with Routen in Pratt on Monday were all cream in color, though officially called yellow labs.
"It's our favorite color because we feel it is important for their faces to be visible, even in low light situations. They are easier to find in the dark."
For people looking for information about service dogs Routen suggested finding them on Facebook, or calling 319-931-2807.