Meet Jeff and service dog Morgan

A man calls a yellow Labrador. The dog runs towards the man.

Jeff works on off-leash recall with Morgan.

Jeff Smithisler and service dog Morgan

Lakewood Ranch, Florida

A man wearing a long sleeved white shirt kneels at the base of a tree. A yellow Labrador sits in front of him.

Jeff kneels with his service dog, Morgan, at the base of a tree.

Jeff Smithisler served as an Army combat engineer and chaplain’s assistant from 2004 – 2013. During a mortar attack in Iraq, his chaplain froze rather than taking cover, and Jeff tackled his friend to the ground to get him out of harm’s way. He blew out his knee and hurt his back, but didn’t get proper treatment until back in the states a few years later. Plagued with chronic pain and PTSD, Jeff turned to the VA who recommended a service dog to help with both conditions. That’s where an affectionate yellow Labrador named Morgan comes in, to offer ready emotional support and to retrieve dropped items since Jeff can’t bend at the waist without severe pain.

“I didn’t pick Morgan; she picked me,” Jeff says, recalling how this sweet dog ignored her trainer and instantly bonded with him when they first met during a home visit. “Nothing makes her happier than giving hugs. If I’m getting stressed out, she automatically gives me a hug—like she can mind-read.”

Jeff’s physical and emotional disabilities have made it hard to be active, and he’s hopeful that Morgan will help him better reintegrate into life. Between studying for an MBA and focusing on Morgan—instead of military memories—Jeff’s hopes for the future are brighter.

Did you know we provide service dogs to our veterans free of cost? If you know someone like Jeff that could use a service dog, encourage them to apply today.

Posted on October 15, 2018 | Category: Blog