Jack and Dick GliebeA beautiful and friendly Shepherd named Jack and his master, Dick Gliebe, a U.S. Marine veteran, work together to bring some joy and happiness into the lives of wounded U.S. military patients who are hospitalized at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

What a wonderful and touching project!!

LAS CRUCES — There were a few anxious looks Tuesday from some Las Cruces residents when they first saw “Jack,” a three-legged German shepherd, in the lobby at City Hall.

But any concerns quickly vanished when they discovered Jack’s good nature and the reason why the dog was there. Even though Jack is 7 years old, weighs 100 pounds and is part wolf, he’s still a puppy dog at heart.

“What a great dog. (He’s) real pleasant, very lovable,” said Martine Gallegos, a Las Cruces homemaker who was at City Hall Tuesday afternoon to pay her utility bill. “He’s a beautiful dog.”

Jack and his master, Dick Gliebe, are on “deployment,” collecting handwritten messages on large scrolls of paper that they will give to wounded U.S. military patients who are hospitalized at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Jack had nothing to say about his project. Instead, he rolled over on his back and begged to have his belly rubbed.

“He’s visited nursing homes and hospitals for the past five years,” said Gliebe, a U.S. Marine veteran who adopted Jack in 2000. “A lot of the patients have become really attached to him. He’s got a great disposition even though he  was abused early in his life and had to have his leg amputated.”

Jack fell from a pickup track traveling on a freeway in Oakland, Calif., injuring his left front leg so badly that it had to be amputated. Ten days after surgery, Gliebe adopted Jack.

“I was surprised at how well Jack had already adjusted to losing a leg,” Gliebe said. “He’s become a model, of sorts, to those who have lost limbs and have adjusted to their loss. A lot of people who have had to go through that have been able to relate to Jack.”

Gliebe and Jack have been traveling for about six months to collect messages from people who want to send well wishes to military personnel wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Already, more than 11,000 people have signed the scrolls.

“When we started out, I initially hoped to get a 1,000 signatures,” Gliebe said. “But we’ve been well received everywhere we’ve gone so far.”

In New Mexico, Gliebe and Jack have collected about 9,000 messages. In Las Cruces for about a week, even with virtually no publicity, they’ve already collected 200.

“A lot of those are from kids, and they’re great,” said Gliebe, as he pointed to some small hands that were outlined on one of the scrolls. “They write nice little messages.”

Some Las Crucens said they were impressed with project.

“It’s a great way to show our soldiers, our sailors, airmen and Marines that we’re really behind them,” said Gordon Johnson, a retired Las Cruces auto mechanic. “We shouldn’t ever forget to say thank you for everything they’ve done. We get to celebrate the Fourth of July and have things like this at City Hall because of the sacrifice our country’s military has made for us.”

Next to the table where Gliebe and Jack will be collecting messages will be a display including photos and information of all city of Las Cruces employees and their immediate families who are veterans and soldiers. The display includes those city employees who served in the Persian Gulf War and are now serving in Iraq. (Las Cruces Sun-News)

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