Hoping for Hope
He lost his dad, but found hope in his dog.
“I hope it’s Hope, I hope it’s Hope,” chanted five-year-old Talon. He and his mom, Crystal, had met five dogs at Southeastern Guide Dogs. Now the day had finally come to meet their match. “We never knew which dog we might get,” Crystal recalls, “but Talon had an attraction to Hope.” And that’s the day this loving Labrador bounded into their lives, befriended Talon, and brought fresh hope to this Gold Star Family.
“I saw a complete change in Talon’s attitude when we got Hope,” reflects Crystal. “He was very closed off before, emotionally. He was having a hard time in school. But after Hope, all of that seemed to go away. She was like the sunshine in a sky full of clouds, and we look forward to coming home to her every day.”
“Of course, Hope doesn’t replace his dad, but she gives him that comfort that he needs.”
Talon was an infant when he lost his dad, but Gold Star Families keep the memories alive. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t talk about him,” shares Crystal. Army Special Forces Sgt. Aaron J. Blasjo died May 29, 2011, on his third deployment to Afghanistan. An improvised explosive device took four lives that day, including Aaron and his special operations dog, Hunter. “Of course, Hope doesn’t replace his dad,” says Crystal. “But she gives him that comfort that he needs. We always say she’s a big ball of love.”
While Talon never knew his dad, he watches other kids’ dads rooting for them at his sports games. “The first thing he does when he gets home from a game is call his dog, because Hope’s unconditional love is there for him,” says Crystal.
Talon turned 11 this year, and Hope has been his best friend for over half his life. She rarely leaves his side, and most of his memories include Hope. “She’s always happy,” Talon says. “She always sleeps with me, and if I’m ever sad, Hope is always there for me.”
This feature first appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Life Unleashed. Read more articles here.