For flight attendant, Molli Oliver, who has quietly been involved in animal rescue for years, it was a chance encounter on one of her flights that inspired her to another calling. Marine Sergeant Andrew Mulherron, a dog handler, pulled at her heartstrings when he related how much he missed his beloved service dog, Boone, and how he had been unable to track him down despite sincere efforts. She promised she would find Boone and personally bring the dog to him. (See my article on Justin and Bond.)
In Molli's own words: "I told him I'd get his dog. I didn't know exactly how, but I knew I could make it happen."
As it turned out, Molli discovered that Boone would be retiring from Fort Leonard Wood, which is a US Army installation created back in 1940 and located in Missouri Ozarks. She was able to pull a few strings and reunite the dog with Mulherron in October of last year. Since then, Molli Oliver has a new mission in life; namely, reuniting handlers with the dogs that have faithfully served by their sides. (See my article on Vets to Vets.)
Molli's United Military Service Dogs aka MUMS
This start-up organization helps handlers reunite with their dogs upon their retirement. At this time, handlers have to pay transport costs out of their own pockets and Oliver believes that their shared military service should exclude them from this fee. While MUMS is still in its infancy, Molli Oliver will not be deterred as she continues to personally cover the flight costs.
Her latest endeavor involves a return to Fort Leonard Hood and the reunification of handler, SSG Hansen, with a service dog named Taylor. This yellow lab, who is also known as Tay-Tay and Princess Taylor, had a distinguished career as a Specialized Search dog working with Special Forces units in Afghanistan during two deployments. She was considered so good at her job that the Taliban at one time had a bounty on her noble head. (See my article on The Dog who Took a Bite Out of Isis.)She has also worked at the usually more civilized Democratic National Convention when it was held in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This time at Fort Leonard Hood, Molli Oliver did not travel alone. She arrived at the fort with a television crew from NBC Nightly News. She was pleased and surprised when Senior Ride Captain, Patriot Guard Riders' Mark Williams presented her with a certificate for military working dog, Taylor, to present to the handler's family once she reunites them.
While Taylor may be the latest military dog to be united with her owner via the auspices of MUMS, she is certainly not the last. Molli Oliver will be returning once again to Fort Leonard Hood, this time to reunite another she was told about during her trip. (See my article on Malec the Service Dog.)
MUMS is an organization still in its infancy and its website is currently under construction using the address: www.mumsdogs.org. For any questions about this wonderful start-up, Molli Oliver can be reached at her active email address: Molli@mumsdogs.org.
Hats off to Molli Oliver and other caring individuals like her who sacrifice their time, funds and energy to reunite and improve the lives of military service dogs and the handlers who love them.