Please – EVERYONE with a Service Dog in Training, I would like you to please watch these amazing videos sent by long-distance Wounded Warrior client, Andrew, and his SDIT, Mozzie.
Mozzie, formerly known as “Ozzie”, was paired with a Wounded Warrior, Marine Andrew, while at Laurel Ridge. Andrew was in treatment for PTSD and TBI, and photophobia-induced migraines (notice the sunglasses in the videos. They did not hinder eye contact at all) . Andrew initially wrote to us the following: “I received a recommendation from my therapist and from my psychiatrist for a service dog. I came across Ozzie on the Service Dog Express website and he seems like a perfect fit for my personality, family, and upcoming life situation.”
Ozzie was found by Cherry Jenkins of In Dog We Trust rescue, and was being fostered by an amazing family in Houston. Ozzie was in a household where they could not keep him due to extenuating circumstances. Joey and I drove halfway to meet Ozzie and his “dad”, with whom he was extremely bonded. The father had tears in his eyes when we left with Ozzie, but he knew that Ozzie had amazing potential and wanted to donate him to Service Dog Express so that he could help a Wounded Warrior. Ozzie was basically completely untrained, but it was his ability to bond with his owner that let us know Ozzie could do this. Andrew and the donating family are in contact and Andrew provides them Mozzie updates.
We then took Ozzie to Cherry’s Rescue, where she gratefully kept him overnight. The next morning, our kind trainer Anthony picked up Ozzie and drove him to Laurel Ridge for the first meet and greet with Andrew and Andrew’s therapist, Kay. It was love at first sight.
Things moved fast. The next day, Andrew’s plane flight was scheduled earlier than we had thought. Cherry’s husband, Gregg, met me at the airport at 5:45 am with all of Ozzie’s things, and I met Andrew there where we went through Delta security (I obtained a gate pass). Andrew was completely prepared, and we made it to the gate just in time to go over the basics of flying and how long-distance training should proceed. Andrew had already contacted a Service Dog trainer near Camp Lejeune to set up training, and I made contact with the trainer to ensure continuity of the process. I watched as the plane flew away, praying all would go well!
WELL, here is the result. Not only did Andrew do everything by the manual, but he kept in constant communication with me regarding Mozzie’s progress and paperwork needs for registration in North Carolina.
Andrew’s videos of he and Mozzie literally blew me away regarding the precision of movements, the attention to detail, and the complete transformation of a regular family dog to a model example of a Service Dog in Training with an equally amazing handler. I evaluated Andrew and Mozzie on the Assistance Dog International Public Access Test checklist and recommended minor areas still needing to be addressed for me to sign off on the test.
All I can say is that Andrew’s work with Mozzie, and his evident absolute bond with Mozzie and love for him have far surpassed my expectations.
To all who were involved in this process to help one Wounded Warrior in need, I cannot express my gratitude enough.
Andrew – you are a shining example of what dedication, perseverance, and love can do despite everything you have been through. Your courage and drive are an inspiration to us all.
(Videos shared with Andrew and Mozzie’s permission)