He has added to my strength and his gentle nature has opened my heart and mind… as long as Ace is with me, I know that I am just fine.
– Greg Alkerton –
Dawn & Thomas
DAWN AND THOMAS
I loved my job and was good at it, I loved the men and women who were working together for the common good…they all wanted to make a difference in this world. But as an army medic you smell things you cannot un-smell…you hear things you cannot un-hear…and you see things you cannot un-see. All that made me proud was taken from me because I did my job…and it broke me.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it started with not answering the phone, then backing out of social engagements, one event at a time. People stopped calling, the invites stopped coming and before I knew it, I was a recluse. When I did go out, it took me days to prepare myself to leave the house, talking myself through every ‘what if’ that could possibly occur, planning out every second of that excursion. Crowds and noise were the biggest hurdles to overcome; background music in a store was enough to send me scurrying for home. It took everything I had to talk myself through an outing…one foot in front of the other, left foot, right foot…breath in, breath out…you are ok, you are safe, but still the walls closed in and the panic would hit.
Then along came Thomas. He and I were paired up through Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs in January of 2015 and, after a year of training being pushed to my limits and beyond, became a fully certified dog/handler team in January of 2016. Thomas allows me to focus on him during outings as opposed to being hyper-vigilant to what is going on around me. He senses when I need to leave a situation sometimes well before I do, and alerts me to that; and provides a calming presence at all times. People enjoy meeting Thomas, and we are happy to educate people about Service Dogs and unseen medical conditions such as PTSD. I also feel I have a purpose in life again, something I lost when I left the military: through meeting other PTSD sufferers who have felt empowered by our story to finally talk about their struggles, and in some cases seek the treatment they have been avoiding for years.
Training a team is provided free of charge to each recipient. It takes one year and between $25,000 and $30,000 for a team to complete the program. This includes dog food, veterinary treatments, obedience training, training equipment and gas cards to cover the travel cost to and from class. If you find value in what we do please consider donating.
Our program is provided free of charge to each recipient. It takes one year and between $25,000 and $30,000 for a team to complete the program, This includes dog food, veterinary treatments, training, equipment and gas cards to cover travel to class.
If you find value in what we do please consider donating. Your donations help remind our veterans that their sacrifice is not forgotten.