News | Aug. 30, 2019

Service at first sight: Captain helps guide dog stay in shape

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Bernard Werwie, Jr., an acquisition specialist with Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, is rarely without his guide dog, Herman. The helpful canine is Werwie’s eyes around Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, and just about everywhere else Werwie wants to travel. But recent physical ailments suffered by Werwie also threatened to sideline his walking partner. Until the employees of Bldg. 33, H Bay stepped in to lend a hand — and a few feet, as well.

“I received Herman from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, in Yorktown Heights, New York, approximately 20 months ago,” explained Werwie, who for the past seven years has suffered from worsening vision. A series of incidents while walking compelled him to obtain a guide dog; so, Herman came to DLA Aviation to work with Werwie.

Service at first sight: Captain helps seeing-eye dog stay in shape
Herman, a guide dog, is from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, in Yorktown Heights, New York. The helpful canine is a Defense Logistics Agency Aviation employee’s eyes around Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. After Herman’s owner was unable to walk him as often, Air Force Capt. Lisa McCarthy, a logistics career broadening officer with DLA Aviation’s Planning Process Directorate, stepped up to help keep the canine in shape. (Photo by Air Force Capt. Lisa McCarthy)
Service at first sight: Captain helps seeing-eye dog stay in shape
Service at first sight: Captain helps guide dog stay in shape
Herman, a guide dog, is from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, in Yorktown Heights, New York. The helpful canine is a Defense Logistics Agency Aviation employee’s eyes around Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. After Herman’s owner was unable to walk him as often, Air Force Capt. Lisa McCarthy, a logistics career broadening officer with DLA Aviation’s Planning Process Directorate, stepped up to help keep the canine in shape. (Photo by Air Force Capt. Lisa McCarthy)
Photo By: Air Force Capt. Lisa McCarthy
VIRIN: 190821-D-D0441-3002
“Herman has been a true blessing and has changed my life for the better, in so many ways that it is difficult to describe,” Werwie said. The pair travel to and from the installation, where Werwie works 10-hour days, four day a week, with a few short breaks.

Earlier in the summer, Werwie developed a diabetic ulcer on his foot and was unable to walk Herman as often. This abbreviated schedule, combined with Herman’s long days resting near his human’s desk, led to a bit of a weight problem for the pooch.

But then Werwie’s new colleagues stepped up to help keep the canine in shape. “Captain Lisa McCarthy and the entire planning team welcomed us with open arms,” Werwie said. “When I explained to her about Herman’s weight gain, and how dangerous it can be for a service animal, she immediately volunteered to take him for walks and runs during her breaks and PT [physical training] time.”

A logistics career broadening officer with DLA Aviation’s Planning Process Directorate, Air Force Capt. Lisa McCarthy’s service appears to be benefiting her as much as it does Werwie and Herman. “I’m blessed to have this unique opportunity to be part of their journey. Exercising him a few times a week will keep him agile and healthy,” she said. “Allowing him to serve Bernie even better.”

Werwie said a special bond has developed between Herman and McCarthy. “He is always looking for her and he gets extremely excited every time she comes by my desk.”

A contributing reason to Herman’s enthusiasm could also be Defense Supply Center Richmond’s “Elk That Joined the Army.” DSCR is the only Department of Defense facility to have a regulatory permit to exhibit the elk; however, tables are turned and Herman seems to be the one on exhibit during their daily strolls.

“We walk the trail around the elk pasture a few times a week and the elk will follow Herman the entire way along the fence, even approaching him directly,” McCarthy says. “It’s fascinating to witness. The same ease he has in connecting with these elk is the same gentleness and ease he has in connecting with Bernie and all the others in our office.”

Werwie said he is grateful for the kindness and affection McCarthy has shown to Herman, and by extension, Werwie himself. “It warms my heart to see the strong bond that has developed,” he said.