Taps. How One Dog Brought Back the Music

The haunting sound of Taps escorts a fallen soldier to his final rest, and Russell Smith had to play it too many times. Hear his story in our latest video.

Click here for the audio description for the visually impaired: https://youtu.be/cPSzBq1m1kY

Russell Smith and Service Dog Mustang

Army veteran Russell Smith served for eight years and two deployments to Iraq, working in food service and selected for his trumpet-playing talents to play Taps for all-too-frequent memorials. The ongoing sound of IEDs and mortar attacks exploding nearby were a constant reminder that not everyone who fought outside the gates of the base returned.

When Russell returned stateside, an injury and the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress kept him isolated and hyper-alert. “I knew there was something missing in my life,” he says. “My anxiety attacks were getting more frequent and severe.” While on a retreat for veterans, Russell met Southeastern Guide Dogs alumni Danny Sepulveda and his service dog Max. Danny encouraged him to apply, and now he’s met his own service dog, Mustang.

“Mustang is a happy dog,” Russell says. “He’s both energetic and chill, and he’s a perfect match.” Russell plans to take Mustang fishing and plans to travel with his dog by his side. “He’s already impacted me,” he says. “I got here Sunday, nervous and stressed, and I met Mustang Monday and he completely changed my life. I smiled more in the first three days of class than I’d smiled in a long time. He has my back and will be there for me no matter what.”

Mustang was named by the Lakewood Ranch Puppy Raisers Walkathon fundraiser. Mustang is the mascot of the local high school, and the West Coast Mustang Car Club is a generous supporter and donor to their fundraising efforts.

Posted on April 11, 2019 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Video