In 2010, Sergeant Craig Grossi was an intelligence collector assigned to Marine RECON—the most elite fighters in the Corps—in a remote part of Afghanistan. While on patrol, he spotted a young dog "with a big goofy head and little legs" who didn’t seem vicious or run in a pack like most strays they’d encountered. After eating a piece of beef jerky Grossi offered—against military regulations—the dog began to follow him. "Looks like you made a friend," another Marine yelled. Grossi heard, "Looks like a 'Fred.'" The name stuck, and a beautiful, life-changing friendship was forged. Grossi detailed their uplifting story of friendship, courage, and positivity in his unforgettable memoir Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other (William Morrow). Since their memoir published in 2017, Grossi and Fred have traveled the nation inspiring audiences with their incredible bond and uplifting message. Craig & Fred was named a Wall Street Journal bestselling book in December 2019. Grossi now returns with his next book, Second Chances: A Marine, His Dog, and Finding Redemption (William Morrow), ready to share the story of the next phase of their lives together working with a service dog training program in Maine State Prison.
On their travels across America, former Grossi and Fred were invited to speak at Maine State Prison—the penitentiary that inspired Stephen King’s famous “Shawshank.” While there, he met a group of very special inmates, participants in a program run by the non-profit America’s Vet Dogs. Grossi discovered that many of the prisoners are veterans—former soldiers serving their country in an entirely different way: transforming purebred Labrador Retrievers from floppy puppies into indispensable companions for disabled vets. These service dogs “literally and figuratively” open doors for men and women, offering hope and a renewed sense of freedom—"freedom that they lost as a result of trauma incurred defending our freedom,” Grossi writes. Second Chances poignantly shows that no life is irredeemable and that each of us can make a difference if given the opportunity.
Grossi’s powerful approach and universal message has inspired audiences ranging from corporate programs to non-profits to schools and universities to find the power and purpose in your own journey no matter the obstacles you may face. Grossi is proof of what is possible when we understand it is not what happens to you but how you react that matters.
When not travelling with Fred, Grossi devotes his time to veteran organizations including the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program and other nonprofits that benefit dogs and veterans. He now lives in Maine with his wife Nora, and their dogs Fred and Ruby.
Praise for Craig Grossi:
"We have used Craig & Fred A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other for the last two years on our campus for our common read and students, faculty, and staff all loved reading the book. Students cannot stop talking about how incredible it was to welcome Craig & Fred to campus and to hear their story in person. The message of stubborn positivity really resonates with our students, and they loved meeting Fred and hearing about how they two of them changed each other, and are now changing the lives of others through their messaging and their work in the prison system. Their story speaks to the heart of what it means to be dedicated to both a sense of purpose and another being, and you will leave loving them even more than you did when reading the book. The time they took to speak to students and sign books was remarkable, and getting to give Fred a pet was a special bonus for those who wanted to do so."
--Suzanne Smith, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Georgia Southwestern State University
"Sgt. Grossi was a pleasure to work with and our audience walked away with a renewed sense of positivity thanks to Craig and Fred!"
-- Jay Pelham, Civilian Welfare Fund (CWF)
"Craig Grossi's presentation at our school was one that we will be feeling the effects of for years to come. His book brought together everyone in our community--from sixth graders to silver-haired seniors, veterans and so many in between. Watching Fred play around as he shared his story with us, meeting him in real life, and seeing the genuine person Craig is was incredible!"
--Jacqui Davison, C.A.R.E.S
"Craig was an excellent, engaging speaker who really connected with the young audience - everyone who attended the event loved his presentation.”
--Fall for the Book Festival
"Craig and Fred are rock stars! They spoke with over 1500 middle school students yesterday about the power of being positive in tough situations. You could hear a pin drop in the auditoriums; the kids were hanging on his every word. Craig was engaging, authentic and funny and Fred was adorable. Craig & Fred have impacted the lives of countless students and adults in our community by sharing their story. We are so thankful for the opportunity to host them and hope to have them back again soon."
--Melissa Rizer, Grosse Pointe Public Library
"In my forty plus years of hosting and attending library programs (including many fabulous concerts), Craig and Fred were one of my favorite programs ever! Craig really is extraordinary - smart, funny, warm, modest, kind, thoughtful and a natural speaker. People LOVED him and his message - I don't think I have ever had so many people thank me for arranging a program or tell me how much the program meant to them. Honestly, it was a remarkable experience."
--Deborah Rutter, Cheshire Public Library
"We had a spectacular visit and people are still thanking me for hosting Craig and Fred!
--Gail Thompson-Allen, Russell Public Library
"Our events with Craig & Nora & Fred & Ruby were awesome! The kids (and adults) were thrilled and enthusiastic and the signing was crazy-good. Our event room was mobbed with people, and it was standing room only in the back. It was so heartwarming to see how many people were touched by their story. It really was a special day for everyone involved!"
--Susan Kehoe, Browesabout Books
"We so enjoyed having Craig and Fred speak at our event! We had an audience of over 500 people and had such a phenomenal response. From the mayor, to other leaders in our community, everyone LOVED Craig and Fred!! Their message of "stubborn positivity" impacted the hearts of so many people. In all my life, I have never heard such great feedback from an event like this, and that is due to Craig and Fred's amazing story. We had a dozen people who drove more than three hours to hear this story. Craig's honesty about his experiences was so genuine, and we loved the whole 'pack' of Craig, Nora, Fred, and Ruby."
--Elizabeth Glass, Micah's Promise, Columbus, Ga
"Planning a program that is engaging and relevant for boys in grades 3-12 is no easy task, and Craig was the perfect speaker to capture our boys' hearts and minds. His message of 'vulnerability as strength' is an important message for boys and young men and we are so grateful for the opportunity to have hosted Craig and Fred. According to one of our Upper School students who helped lead the program, 'Craig was very engaging and he answered a lot of questions--- nothing was off limits. He was easy to work with and made me think about being vulnerable."
--Kim Hudson, Director of the Center for the Study of Boys, St. Christopher’s School