Mike works on the “block” command with service dog Chloe at the University Town Center Mall. [Pictured: Man stands with goldador standing in front of his legs. A woman approaches them, while a Southeastern Guide Dogs trainer observes.]
Mike and service dog Chloe stand side by side in front of a tree. [Pictured: man wearing blue t-shirt and khaki pants with a goldador sitting next to him.]
Mike did two tours in Iraq and three in Afghanistan, serving first in the Navy for over six years and then in the Georgia Air National Guard, for a total of 22 years of service. After the E6 Technical Sgt. retired from being a jet engine mechanic, he researched service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and found Southeastern Guide Dogs.
A mellow, easygoing goldador named Chloe now helps Mike feel more comfortable about getting out among others in his hometown of Elizabethton, Tennessee. “We have a tendency to hide ourselves real well,” he says. “Now, I feel like I have a purpose to go out and show her off!”
One of the most unforgettable moments for Mike came during the second night of class. He woke at 2 a.m. to find Chloe up on his chest with both paws, licking his face. “It didn’t dawn on me until the morning that she was waking me up,” he says. “That’s the topper there. Because of nightmares, I haven’t had eight hours of sleep in almost 15, 16 years.”