Meet Robert and service dog Mae

man in wheelchair, wounded veteran, disabled veteran, yellow labrador, service dog

Robert smiles with his service dog, Mae, at his side. The team is in a wooded area.

Robert Calderon & Service Dog Mae

Bradenton, FL

While on campus, Bob Calderon bonded with his class so much that he says, “I don’t want to leave!” But when he heads home, the Vietnam veteran won’t be alone anymore. Now he’ll have a “loving and affectionate” yellow Labrador named Mae by his side. “I thought it would take longer for Mae to warm up and get used to me,” Bob adds. “But we are a good fit.”

Bob lost so much in Vietnam. A mine explosion cost the Marine both legs, his left eye, and some hearing. He uses a wheelchair and lives with pain and post-traumatic stress. His losses continued, as five years ago, Bob’s wife died, and last year, his son passed away. “After losing them, I thought I would never love again,” Bob shares. “Mae is giving me a chance to love again.”

Mae will be a physical aid for Bob, picking things up and helping him transfer to and from his wheelchair. She’ll also be Bob’s companion on walks and trips to visit his daughter and will make him feel safer out in the world. “Mae will give me something to look forward to every day,” he says. “Somebody to talk to instead of the walls.” Already, Mae’s love has lessened his anxiety and anger and had a calming effect. “That’s something I haven’t had in a long time,” Bob admits.

Sponsor Darlene Kornacker named Mae in memory of her aunt, who was visually impaired.

Posted on February 11, 2019 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Our Dogs