Mark Tilton and Service Dog G.G.
Mark’s sister lives 20 minutes from our campus, and even as Mark resisted, she and his three grown daughters urged him to give Southeastern Guide Dogs’ service dog program a chance. Since returning from Iraq over ten years ago, Mark hadn’t left Lowell, Ohio, much less boarded a plane, so traveling to campus was a challenge.
Traveling home was a bit easier with his service dog G.G. by his side, as this hardworking, laid back yellow Labrador helps Mark feel less anxious.
Mark’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stems from his work in the Navy’s EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) special operations for eight years, followed by eight and a half years as an Army officer with Middle East deployments. With his expertise as a dolphin and whale trainer and as a bomb disposal technician, Mark worked with marine mammals in high-stress scenarios to disarm waterborne mines.
Training with G.G. was a new experience. “I didn’t do anything or go anywhere except for church,” he says. “But during the training I went more places than in the last ten years.” With G.G.’s help and ongoing companionship, Mark is slowly becoming more comfortable in public places, and focusing on G.G. takes the focus off of things that may trigger Mark’s anxiety.