Dear Future Warrior/Handler,
It will not be long before I am by your side. I am still young – ten months – but the cool new dog training manager, Mike, at K9s For Warriors gave me a pre-evaluation. Mike said he believes I will make a good service dog. He also said I can get a jump start on my training. This works out well because my mom brings me on campus everyday anyway. Now, instead of being near her desk while she works, I get to hang out in the kennel and work with the dog trainers.
I was assigned my very own kennel and trainer. My trainer’s name is Barb. She is really nice and gives me treats when I do a good job. I miss my mom sometimes and worry she misses me, but I know she understands the mission. I am doing my best to pay attention in training, so I can help you get better. At times, I get distracted. I see interesting people and dogs and want to play with them. But, then I remember that I need to help you, so I work hard to regain my focus. I know you are a veteran and that you have experienced trauma. I also know that you may be sad and worried. I am very sorry, and I understand what it feels like to hurt inside.
Barb and I
The first family I lived with didn’t want to take care of me. I was lonely and felt like I was doing something wrong… something to make them not love me. I tried my best to be a good puppy. I became depressed and confused. My former family’s neighbors happen to be puppy-raisers for K9s. These special volunteers are fostering my friend Macho, who is also an aspiring service dog! They saw how I was treated and offered to take me to K9s For Warriors; they thought I would be a good candidate for the program. My former family agreed to let me go, and I heard them say that I would fail. It was very easy for them to give me away, which broke my heart. When the volunteers brought me to Camp K9, I was evaluated by a lady named Deb. She told me I was pretty awesome and that I passed my evaluation. I was so excited! I learned that I was going to a new home until I am old enough to move into the kennel, where I will learn to become your service dog.
That day, I met my foster mom, Samantha. She embraced me with a very warm hug and made me feel special. I began to feel better, and the images of my former owners began to fade away. I went home with my mom that night, and we bonded right away. I love Samantha. I am not afraid to be myself around her. She will act silly with me. She also takes me to cool places like Starbucks. Samantha has a little boy named Mason, and I love him, too. I sleep in his bedroom with him every night. He tells me that I keep him safe. I enjoy feeling needed. Samantha and Mason have been very supportive of me. When Samantha was told that I would begin training, she was very happy and proud.
Look at me practicing “down.” See the determination on my face?
It’s only been a few days since I started training. I have had some ups and downs, but I am ok with that. When I first went into the kennel, I was scared. But, I knew this would be an opportunity for me to conquer fear and doubt. I would like to help you do that as well. I believe we will make a good team. I am going to help you do the things you once enjoyed. I’ve learned some things about PTSD, TBI, and MST. I know I am a dog and don’t always comprehend people things, but I have a big heart and special spirit. I can feel emotions. I am a good listener, too. You can tell me anything. I won’t judge you. I can’t talk, so your secrets are safe! But, even if I had the ability to use words, I wouldn’t tell anyone. My mom recently went through a difficult time, and I would jump into her lap when she was upset. I know it made her feel better. I will do the same for you. Until then, I will be working hard to prepare for the day we become a team. I can’t wait to be your battle buddy.