Meet Jim!

Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'

Wasn’t it fun.

This would be the title of the story of my life,” shares Jim Dugan. Standing six-four, this gentle man is also a rugged ex-military Policeman and Narcotics Officer who has dedicated his life to helping others.

Jim began his career with dogs as a Military Police Dog trainer for the US Army.  Eight years with the program took him around the world, eventually landing him in Portland. His experience is vast; including explosives and drug detection, and K9 military combat training. “Training ‘explosive bomb’ drug-sniffing canines is a very physical and emotional job,” he affirms.

His love for working for ‘working dogs’ eventually led him to San Rafael, California, where he began working with Guide Dogs for the Blind in 1989.

“Portland seemed like a great ‘training ground’ to open a school, as there were no other schools like this in the Pacific Northwest. I was chosen to be part of the startup crew, and was happy to be one of the six original founders. I have called Portland home ever since. I am now a Training/Class Supervisor for Guide Dogs for the Blind.”

Raised in a small farming community in Iowa, this former football player and wrestler was also a cheerleader in high school.

His favorite movie is African Queen.  “I like the river adventure, and of course Hepburn and Bogart.”

His artistic tastes are as diverse as his interests; his favorite book is “Green Eggs & Ham.  I used to love reading that to my son.”

A well-traveled man, among his favorite destinations are “Europe and Germany, but there is one place I have been I swear is the most amazing place I have ever been or seen:  a tiny mountainous town with a population of 813 that I found by accident while driving through it: Ouray, Colorado.  I hope to visit there again someday.”

What is he most proud of?  “My son. He’s in school to be a doctor of optometry. He grew up with me working with the blind and he wants to work with low-vision patients, which I think is pretty great.”

Each class Jim trains requires many hours of intense concentration and dedication to the client/dog team. What does he do to relax? “I watch mindless TV, float down the Sandy River on my raft with friends, or simply just watch the wind blow.”

“Watch the wind blow?”

“Yes. This comes from my dad back in Iowa. He once asked me if I ever just sat and watched the wind blow. He was sick, and would just stop and do this and somehow it relaxed him. I find it helps me to relax too. Of course I think of him and how he taught me to appreciate something like the wind. I wish the youth of today would listen more to elderly people — absorb their stories and appreciate the knowledge they have to share. They need to know that life is hard. Relationships are hard. This is the one change I would like to see in the world.”

About the shoe. “My motocross boots! I know when I put them on I am going to have fun riding my dirt bike.”

Favorite food? “Bacon and peanut butter are God’s perfect foods,” Jim laughs, adding, “think about it — there’s nothing in the world that does not taste better with one of these two ingredients in them or spread on it!”

“What I want people to know about Guide Dogs for the Blind,” he says, “is that they are truly happy doing their jobs. They love what they do.  And when they are working they take their job very seriously. They understand what they are doing and that a person’s life depends upon them. They live with that person for life. People should not try to pet or engage with a guide dog that’s doing its job as they cannot take their focus off their job. People often don’t see the playful side of working dogs. On the streets it is all business, but they also get cuddle time and playtime, and are friends and companions in many ways when the harness is not on. I don’t want people to think they are sad. These dogs really love what they are doing and love their owners and the life they live.”

One final thought from this outdoorsman with a love for life, bacon and peanut butter…

“People should pay attention to their pets — they can learn a lot. The three really important things people can learn about life from their pets: 1) Run for the door when your loved one comes home; 2) Look them in the eye when they are talking to you; and 3) Never miss an opportunity for a kiss.” 

About our Sponsor

Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years.  In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare.  Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood. 

Melinda Thompson is a freelance writer with a degree in Speech Communications and a coveted "Ducktorate" from the Walt Disney World Company. She has been featured in many local magazines and newspapers.  She lives in Vancouver USA with her husband, son and daughter.