It’s been so long since I’ve posted about training with a wonderful Wounded Warrior – Jesse, who suffers from extreme PTSD. When I first met Jesse, he was so anxious just talking that he had a towel with him at all times to wipe away the sweat from his panic – just meeting a stranger. But he was so nice, kind, gentle-hearted, and eager beyond belief to start his journey with a Service Dog. Jesse is young, and served with the military for 4 years – but, as is often the story, he was immediately thrown into battle and now, he was a different man. He could barely be around any new people without actually just having to leave – always apologizing profusely – but he would have such severe panic attacks that he had no choice. Jesse met Sasha, who had been fostered by Barbara – and his whole world has changed.
Jesse met Sasha, lovingly donated by Barbara who felt Sasha had a higher calling – and she was right. Since Jesse adopted Sasha, his world has changed. I noticed each time I met with him, he seemed happier, so much more hopeful – and was completely committed to taking the best care of Sasha. He literally doted on her like she was a queen – buying her the best of toys, food, and all things doggie. They had an instant bond, and from day one, they have been inseparable – sleeping together, playing, and week by week, starting to go out into public places that otherwise Jesse would have never dreamed of going to. I have watched their progression, and Jesse followed the training manual to a tee, training Sasha to perform as many commands as possible. Sasha is brilliant, and picked up commands easily. But Jesse had finally found his best friend, and life has changed so much for him.
Now, Jesse has a girlfriend. Now, Jesse has had the courage to get a job. Now, Jesse can go into places in public with Sasha and last longer and longer without the anxiety being so bad that he only lasts a few minutes. He looks forward to his future, has regained hope, and has found joy in a world that formerly looked hopeless to him.
Jesse, Sasha, and I have trained in several public places, and you can just see how much they love each other. Sasha can “sit”, “down”, “watch me”, “heel”, “load and unload”, “cover”, and does one thing that really helps Jesse – Jesse has extreme anxiety reactions to loud, unexpected noises – but Sasha is not bothered by them at all – and so Jesse sees Sasha’s reaction and knows “it’s ok”. I am so proud of Jesse, and they will soon be passing the PAT.
One thing I noticed instantly is how Sasha’s coat is changing. It is so shiny, soft, and always smells dreamy! That’s because Jesse love giving her a bath every week! He gets up every morning and makes Sasha eggs to go with her regular food!