Meet Derrick and service dog Kelly

A man sits in a grey chair while a goldador lays on his lap. The man is smiling and wearing blue jeans and a white tshirt, while the dog is wearing a blue service dog vest. | Marines | medical discharge

Derrick sits in a chair at the mall and his service dog, Kelly, gives him a “hug.” Derrick smiles and pets Kelly.

Derrick Bhagraj and service dog Kelly

Coconut Creek, Florida

A man wearing a blue tshirt and grey shorts kneels next to a goldador in an outside setting. | Marines | medical discharge

Derrick kneels next to Kelly, his service dog.

When Derrick Bhagraj left the Marines in 2013 and went home to his wife, he worked hard to recuperate from a physical injury as well as invisible wounds. Isolated and depressed by his medical discharge and unable to continue working as an accident investigator with the Coral Springs police, Derrick’s mental condition and the health of his marriage worsened. Finally, his wife and a VA psychiatrist recommended a service dog, and counselors pointed him to Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Today things look much brighter with a spunky yellow goldador named Kelly. “I didn’t know how it would work—having somebody else to take care of while I was trying to take care of myself,” the Trinidad and Tobago native says. “Now, I watch and observe her and it takes my mind off of my problems. It’s like a cancel effect.”

Kelly’s personality matches his perfectly, Derrick notes. “She likes to get her back scratched like me; likes to eat just like me. And we’re both Geminis with June birthdays.” Kelly will help Derrick resume outdoor activities such as jogging and visiting the beach, which he loved before Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan took away his peace of mind.

Do you know any veterans like Derrick that could use a service dog? Encourage them to apply today.

Posted on October 1, 2018 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Our Dogs