Congratulations Service Dog Class #290
A new class of veterans recently came to our campus to train with the service dogs that will make all the difference in their lives.
Before they arrived, their days were often limited by the pain and isolation of post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, we celebrate all of their hard work to forge a new reality of hope, walking side-by-side with their extraordinary, four-legged friends.
We salute these members of Service Dog Class #290 as they graduate, and we wish them all the best on their journey!
In this video, one veteran shares about the hope he’s found in his dog, Case.
Read more about the brave and determined veterans of Class #290
(Pictured: Jamie Purmort and service dog Stanley, trainer Emily Dombroski, Barry Pendergrast and service dog Case, trainer Laska Parrow, Vincent Van Suchtelen and service dog Zion, trainer Sally Irvin, and Stan Johnston and service dog Emmy Lee Not pictured: anonymous veteran and service dog Shasta)
- Vincent stared at his home’s ceiling for six months before enduring two years of physical therapy. On his journey from a wheelchair to crutches to walking, this determined Army veteran wore out his shoes trying to gain endurance enough to train with a service dog. Now that he’s met Zion, the struggle was worth it.
- “It’s been a long road to get here,” says Barry, about his journey to receiving his new service dog, Case. He experienced 13 years in the Navy as a parachute rigger, including global travels, four deployments, three stints in Iraq, injuries, hospital stays, and 100 days in a facility receiving treatment. Now he’s found the help and hope he needs in the four paws and wagging tale that is Case, and his wife noticed immediately that Barry seems calmer and happier.
- This Army veteran chooses to remain anonymous, and we respect the needs of our students to feel secure. They were matched with a “loving, easygoing, and preciously sweet” black Lab named Shasta. Shasta’s affection came into play immediately, as she showered her new best friend with “hugs, hugs, and more hugs.” Before meeting Shasta, this veteran experienced extreme fear and isolation. Shasta is their new key to finding hope.
- Jamie came to Southeastern Guide Dogs after hearing inspirational speaker Keni Thomas share about life with his service dog during a fundraising event. Jamie learned more from longtime supporter and board member Bobby Newman, and then applied for what he calls “a nice, all-around Swiss Army knife of a dog—one with a little bit of everything.” That all-purpose dog is the remarkable Stanley, who will always have Jamie’s back.
- When a VA psychologist recommended a service dog to Stan, he began a three-year journey to Southeastern Guide Dogs and a wonderful Lab named Emmy Lee. “She is already very in tune with me and follows me around the room,” Stan says. Slow and steady, Emmy Lee doesn’t pull hard on Stan’s damaged arm and shoulder, and he knows their bond will continue to grow.
Way to go, Class #290!
Welcome to the Southeastern Guide Dogs Family