Salute! Service Dogs Graduate with Veterans
On September 6th we graduated Class #259, sending eight veterans home with eight spectacular service dogs. Meet the class and the loyal dogs at their sides.
- Dennis survived an intense environment during the Vietnam War and came home never quite the same. A smart and calm yellow Lab named Chucky now gives him more confidence. “I turn to him and give him some love, and he switches my thoughts off the downer stuff to ‘let’s get more positive here!’” he says.
- Name withheld – Focusing on his service dog has helped this veteran emerge from the reclusiveness that has held him back over the last few years. “She gets me out of the house,” he says.
- Daniel tried to shake the PTSD that came back from two deployments to Iraq with the Army military police. Volunteering with Walkathon through a networking group introduced him to us, and now an energetic and joyful Lab named Pella has become his best friend and full-time therapy.
- Doug was once a machine gunner in the Marines and suffered a tremendous injury in Okinawa that fractured his neck and every vertebra in his back. PTSD did its damages, and now a laidback yellow goldador named Guiness has become his partner and friend. “He just makes me feel completely different,” Doug says.
- Kristofer is a Marine through and through, and losing buddies on a mountainside plane crash in Afghanistan meant leaving part of himself behind. Now a black Lab named Bluford is at his side, giving Kristofer a new “unit” to help. “He’s given me my humanity back,” he says.
- A former Army platoon leader, Vietnam vet, and Purple Heart recipient, Jim met us when he volunteered to raise a Southeastern Guide Dogs puppy. Now a yellow goldador named Coco is filling his life. “She’s everything you could want and she senses when things aren’t right with me,” he says.
- Army veteran Anthony once dropped out of high school but then overcame the odds and earned a PhD. As a therapist working with other vets, their PTSD eventually triggered his own, resulting in isolation, hypervigilance, and an out-of-control startle response. Now a happy black Lab named Hondo is calming him down and grounding him, and Anthony looks forward to becoming active again.
- Kenneth spent 10 years as an Army military police investigator dealing with traffic accidents and crimes against children. He’s been hurting for a long time, and now a “little golden angel”—a yellow goldador—named Pam is helping him sleep through the night again.