Meet Class #282 – Service Dog Graduates
Congratulations Class #282!
Congratulations to our new graduates, the veterans and service dogs of Class #282. We honor the accomplishments of these dedicated, hard-working veterans and welcome them to the Southeastern Guide Dogs family. Let’s meet the class!
- From 1999 to 2005, Jeff served as an aircraft mechanic, Apache helicopter repairer, tactical transportation specialist, and as an infantryman in Iraq, Kuwait, and several other deployments during the Iraq War. Now Jeff has been matched with his first service dog, Ford, a yellow Lab and an “awesome dog” who already seems to know what Jeff is thinking and provides a calming presence.
- Marine Corps veteran Bob faces a mix of emotions as he falls in love with his new service dog, Pudge, while grieving the retirement of his first service dog, Dillin. He and Dillin had been inseparable. Now he’s bonding with sweet, precious Pudge whose puppy-dog eyes and playful energy quickly cheer this Vietnam veteran. Pudge has stepped in where Dillin left off, and Bob can resume traveling and socializing with his wife, Marcia.
- When Terry’s 9-year-old goldendoodle suddenly passed away, his VA therapist noticed a change in this Air Force veteran’s personality—he had become more withdrawn, and his anger and anxiety levels spiked. The therapist suggested a service dog, and now Terry’s met a laidback, lovable yellow goldador named Sasha, his new battle buddy.
- During his 20 years in the Minnesota National Guard, Paul worked as a field artillery soldier and in Army logistics as part of a convoy security unit. He deployed to Baghdad and throughout Iraq during his enlistment. After he retired, Paul researched service dogs, and now he’s been paired with Sierra, a smart and intuitive black goldador with lots of energy. As the two head home, Paul looks forward to introducing Sierra to snow during her first Minnesota winter.
- Joe is an 18-year veteran of the Army National Guard, serving with the military police and deploying around the world until he was medically retired. Now Joe has been matched with Pitney, a beautiful yellow Lab service dog who is already improving Joe’s outlook. After previously avoiding public places, the idea of taking Pitney on hikes, to the park, and the beach gives Joe hope that he’ll be able to get out more with his family.
- Ed served as an artillery and military security officer in the Marine Corps for eight years and as a tactical, psychological operations soldier in the Army Reserve for six years. During those 14 years, he spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Ed reached out to Southeastern Guide Dogs for his new service dog, Judge, an energetic black Lab that will always be by his side. Judge helps with Ed’s PTSD and anxiety, and will accompany him to work every day.
- During his enlistment, Jay worked as a senior airman stationed at Dover Air Force Base, loading and unloading cargo planes. But it was memories of his deployment to Al-Taqaddum Air Base in Iraq that remained when he returned to civilian life. After his first service dog, Max, retired after many years of faithful service, Jay has been paired with Donald, an intuitive yellow Lab that Jay says is “the best medicine out there.”
- Army veteran Ken worked as a military intelligence systems maintainer, a highly technical and stress-filled job. During his enlistment, he was stationed in Korea, Arizona, and Fort Hood, and also deployed to Iraq. After his Army enlistment was up, friends and fellow veterans encouraged Ken to look into Southeastern Guide Dogs for a service dog. Now he’s been matched with John, an alert, gorgeous black Lab that stays by his side and looks out for him.
We celebrate you, Class #282, and wish each of you a fulfilling and exciting journey with your service dogs. Welcome to the Southeastern Guide Dogs family!