Good Day fellow dog friends and family! My mom told me when I was really little, I was really important. This weekend, well Saturday, we met a lot of different people but most were Veterans. Veterans are amazing because they all have great stories to tell you. And they are like my mom. She tells me stories of the time when she served in the Army.
I am her service dog. I do really important things like keep her calm in large crowds, wake her up in a terror, make her feel more safe in an uncomfortable environment for her, sense when she is going to have an asthma attack, and I also tell her when she needs to take a break.
How did I become a trained service dog? Well, I am only a year old, but my mommy’s connection with me is like finding that perfect dog soul mate. She just knew I was the one. I have been with her since I was born or she says 8 weeks. And from that moment, I was her pup. I went everywhere with her. We even got a new car together. I was the first dog to ride in it. I started training at 12 weeks with just her. We learned manners in public and at home. (Daddy says I don’t know any, but when I have the vest on, I know my manners!) After I worked on manners, we worked on socialization skills. Boy, I was good at home. Mommy always has doggy friends for me to play with over because she runs the Nash Doggy Lounge. In public, I was terrified, every thing was scary. Mommy told me, Zoey, you are not going have to worry, I will not let those dogs harm you. Looking back, she was more stressed to get herself trained the right skills and not fail our team, than I was stressing to get eaten by the big dogs. So 20 weeks, we start BIG DOG training. It was exciting. Man, I got to meet new friends, played til I was pooped and I learned new skills. I was already becoming so smart so fast, I fell asleep during each class. Mommy just laughed at me. Hope she listened to the trainer because I didn’t, I needed some Zz’s. I haven’t stopped training yet though, each day we work on our skills, and I figure out something new. In the beginning though, it was tough learning how to sense what my mommy really needed and what was going on, the first she had her moment, I freaked out too. I remember that day, she couldn’t breathe, she was sitting on the couch and Tank was there. He showed me to get Daddy and then he grabbed this thing and took it Mommy. I am learning how to get things for Mommy currently. We work on that daily. I know hale is her breathes, and shoe is for walking, and leash is for walking, and oh my goodness, I know that harness means we are going to be working. I love to work. I live for it.
The first skill I learned about her, she is an emotional loving and caring woman, but she tells me stories where she use to be angry, depressed, and always sad. She would sit and cry and tell me special stories about Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and other places she has seen, then I would notice she would stop talking. She would sit there, not move, and stare then I knew she wasn’t here with me and I would jump in her lap and lick her until she petted me and hugged me and said “let’s be friends” that is our words for everything is alright.
At night-time, I get to sleep with her. I have never went potty in the house or in the bed. So I would make sure I curled up in a comfy spot and sleep. I could hear her have her nightmares, her nighttime asthma attacks, or a moment when she would fall into a night terror moment of screams. I started to understand that she needed saved each time. I can sense them, its my job to be able to detect her uneasiness. Even when she is asleep and cannot detect it herself. I would wake up Daddy first, and he understands that Mommy needs to be awake. We together work as a team, if he isn’t home, I can wake her up by licking her face and hands. She comes back to me and I am happy as a puppy on treats! She uses our special words and then we stretch and either go back to sleep or we play.
She is awesome, Mommy makes my life so much fun. Sometimes we go to her school for the day. She tells me it is because she is not feeling well and she needs support. We go to the store all the time. She has trained me to stay at the shopping cart and watch her. It is an important job. I never know when she might fade out of what she calls thinking in real-time, and when that happens, she just stops and stares. Sometimes she mumbles things, but if she feels me, she comes back quickly and is able to return to the world as normal. She looks to me as a best friend, a companion that is always there, and I look at her like she is my world and she is amazing.
Being her service dog, its like being her battle buddy all the time. I am proud to be hers. I love her. –Zoey
Casey Here– I tell Zoey’s stories as I hope she would some being light-hearted and funny and then some being more full of meaning. This blog was hard for me to write without giving more of my story too. PTSD and Night terrors are a silent killer for a lot veterans. Most veterans understand that there are many roads to get help, but there are always those times where we all feel lost. When we feel like no one understands our life or our past and our current struggle to dealing with the memories of our traumas. Having Zoey, my service dog, my battle buddy, has helped me find a way to cope better with my traumas, my dissociation moments, and my other issues. When I feel like my days become too hard to deal with, I take a deep breath and look at Zoey, no one will care for her like me. I cannot leave her behind. Then it begins the cycle of what matters most to me, my kids, my husband, and my family. All the meanings I have, Zoey simply being by my side in a deep depression state can stop a thought of suicide for me. I believe that each Veteran that can benefit from an Emotional Support Animal or a Service Animal should be afforded the opportunity to be granted one. It would be less than 22 veterans committing suicide a day if they had a service dog to just be there for them. Zoey and I sat at our Veteran’s Salute in Hinesville, GA on 11/4/2017 honoring all veterans. To watch and understand this community of people is more that just a tiny piece of veterans, it is a huge heart of the community. We do not see them under their regular clothes but we are in large number and we are a family. I volunteer through an organization that is like a family to me. The American Legion Post #321. If you are a veteran or currently serving, comment below I would love to hear your story! We are a rare breed of animal, where we wear a million hats, and expected to dance to all tunes.
Thank you for tuning in today! We love you all– Zoey and Casey