Bel: Ralph, tell me a little about yourself.

Ralph: My name is Ralph Lanier, I am 84 years old and was born in New York City.  I am a retired union plumber. I’ve been out in Arizona for 47-48 years.  I also spent some time in the Navy.  I was in from 1953 to 1955 and then two years in the Naval Reserves. I was a UT, which is a Utilitiesman. We worked with plumbing, heating, steam, compressed air, fuel storage, and basically anything to do with pipes.

B: Tell me about Jessie.

R: I have always had hunting dogs, English pointers and all. Got a lab rescue over here – Jessie. We’re both certified for the therapeutic dog program incorporated out of Wyoming. We go to the VA twice a month to visit the patients. Once a month the blind rehab comes over here to the Pima Air and Space Museum, where Jessie is an honorary greeter. They bring their van, and one of our guys takes him on their  van out to where the tram goes. Jessie and I meet them at hanger three.  We take them to hangers three and four.  We also visit  hanger one and the museum store, then we get lunch and come back over here.  When we come here, she does double duty. We help with the new volunteer orientation. While we’re here all the kids and people get to pet her.

B: She must bring a lot of joy to a lot of people.

R: Yeah, she’s really a good, good dog and lovable and there is just me and her in the house, so we live on 2 acres so she has plenty of room to roam.

B: You’ve had her for how long?

R: A little over two years.

B: What was her story before you got her?

R: They say that the people that owned her had to leave the country and couldn’t take the dog out of the country.  With a rescue dog you never know.

B: Where did you find her at exactly?

R: The Animal League of Green Valley.

B: In Green Valley. So you saw her among the other dogs?

R: Yes, they got hundreds of dogs there, and you go by and  wait for the dog to pick you out because you don’t pick the dog out, they pick you out.  That’s basically what happened. I went by her the first time and  passed her up, and I didn’t get a dog. I went back a week later and she was still there, and they brought her out and she came over and snuggled to me, and I said “well, that’s the dog that’s going home with me,” and I took her home.

B: She said “I want you to be my master.”

R: Yeah, she’s been really an excellent dog.  Lovable – she follows me all over. I go take a shower, and she lays down right by the door or waits for me over there and jumps up on my lap, and she loves being petted. You pet her, then she’ll lay down on her side and she wants a belly rub, and all the patients at the VA know this… we’re what’s called the pets for vets program from the VA. We visit 7 days a week. We have one dog in the morning, one in the afternoon visiting all the patients.

08 Ralf Lanier and Rescue Dog Jessie 2 Mar16

B: So you take her, what days of the week?

R: I take her on Sundays, usually two Sundays a month. I don’t make them back to back if I don’t have to.

B: You just pretty much go to each patient.

R: We go to the dementia ward, which is a locked down unit.  I go to the drugs and alcohol unit, and you know that’s a lock down building.  I go on Sundays also. I like Sundays.

B: How does she react to the patients over there?

R: She loves them.

B: She just loves them?

R: Yeah, she’s perfect. We go in and I say “We are pets for the vets, would you like to pet a dog?” Some say yeah, some say no thank you.  Then I go to the next patient so I’m usually there between about 2 and 3 hours.

B: How old is she do you think?

R: I would say she’s 7 now or close to it. When I got her they said she was about 5 years old.

B: She really does have a great personality, she sounds just wonderful.

R: She’s great. When I put her vest on she knows she’s going either here to the museum or to the VA.

B: You bring her to the museum every time you come here?

R: No, I bring her when the blind rehab comes once a month and then, like today was a new volunteer orientation, so I help with that.  She’s like you, the unofficial greeter, or the mascot or whatever you want to call her. Other than that, I work Thursday and Friday.

B: You pretty much take her everywhere you go? Like the grocery store?

R: No.

B: No, she just kinda hangs out at home?

R: Yeah, when I go she loves going on trips. She goes all over.  I got an RV, but if I put that vest on, she knows I gotta open the back truck door first, then I open up the house door, boom she’s up on the backseat right away. Let’s go! She knows that, and if I don’t put the vest on, we are not going anywhere. She loves to travel.  She’s a wonderful dog.

B: Thank you for your time.

R: I lucked out with her. We both lucked out.

08 Ralf Lanier and Rescue Dog Jessie 1 Mar16

B: Have you ever heard that saying who rescued who? You rescued each other, right?

R: If you want to rescue a dog, then I highly recommend the Animal League of Green Valley. It is clean, and they take care of their dogs. Their dogs are walked. When they get new ones, some come inside for a while, then they go outside. They got people that come a couple times a day to go into the dog area and play with them because some of the dogs they don’t know where they came from and they get used to them that way.  They really take good care of them. I recommend them.  I went to the Pima Animal Care Center,  down on Silverbell. I didn’t care for them.  Not to say you can’t get a dog there, but this one is clean. You go in there and it doesn’t even smell. They have a whole wing just for cats and dogs.  It’s right next to the Missile Museum, which belongs to us.

B: Great, well you sure are bringing a lot of joy to a lot of people. (Talking to Jessie). Thank you for your time and everything.


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