OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — One Edmond veteran continues to serve the community after retirement.
Mike Penning and his therapy dog, Luna, were recently recognized by The National Veterans of Foreign Wars — commended for providing comfort to all they encounter.
The retired Air Force Lientenant Colonel was a helicopter pilot who served in Operation Northern Watch, patrolling the no-fly zone over Northern Iraq.
Today, he and his 4 year old recruit, Luna, are overseeing a new mission in Oklahoma.
“She’s the first dog I had an instant connection with and just realizing her personality, her demeanor, etc,” Said Penning. “She was very quick and receptive to the learning and she wanted to please me as an owner and so we just had that connection.”
Luna was rescued by Penning when she was six months old. He says he knew right away how special she was.
Penning decided to embark on a training process though the non-profit A New Leash On Life, to get Luna certified as a therapy dog.
The pair then went to work — volunteering with the Veterans of Foreign Wars “Still Serving” movement.
The pair visit schools, nursing homes and memory care centers. His therapy dog not only brings joy with her tricks but even provides her own type of physical therapy.
“The older folks love it because she takes the ball and she’ll roll the ball back and forth to them, so it’s learning dexterity for them,” said Penning.
Recently, Penning received the VFW’s “Still Serving” award.
The campaign recognizes veterans who are still serving their communities even after their time in the military.
“I’m shocked. It’s Luna that I think deserves all the credit and glory for what she does. She’s just an amazing dog,” said Penning.
Penning goes on to add “I have her salute. She does a salute command. She does a beg command. There’s high-5s and high-10s. She does a prayer command and she does the praying.”
Luna provides more than entertainment. She is also a steady paw for those who may be struggling with life’s challenges.
In addition to his work with Luna, Penning also works with a congressional representative on military affairs issues.