April 23rd 2013 5:50 am
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By Caroline Golon @ http://www.halopets.com/freekibble/donation98.html
The following is one of the incredible, inspiring stories featured in “Shelter Me,” a PBS film by Steven Latham. Hosted by Katherine Heigl, “Shelter Me” aired nationwide last year and is now available for rental at Redbox. From April 23 through April 29, Redbox will donate 100% of rental proceeds of Shelter Me to the Halo Pet Foundation. The Halo Pet Foundation is dedicated to supporting shelters and rescues and best of all, 100% of foundation funds go to help pets! For more information please visit: http://bit.ly/10QsFHw
When Andrew Trotto, U.S. Army, 168th Combat Action Battalion, came home from Iraq, he was struggling with anxiety, depression and anger. Over time, his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) grew to the point that he didn’t know how he’d survive another day. But a sweet rescue dog named Teka changed all that and gave him a reason to live.
Although Trotto was struggling with PTSD, he didn’t know where to turn. “I was a machine,” he says. “It’s hard to ask for help when you’re in that kind of position.”
He learned about Freedom Service Dogs, an organization that rescues dogs from shelters and trains them for service dogs for mobility issues, soldiers or kids with autism. A dog lover his entire life, he filled out an application to participate in the program.
“We love rescuing the dogs,” says Stephanie Baigent of Freedom Dogs. “There are so many dogs with the temperament of a service dog sitting in shelters. We don’t need a breeding program to have the same temperament and quality of dog to train for a service dog.”
Once his application was processed, Trotto met three dogs but instantly bonded with Teka. “It was love at first sight,” he says. While it can sometimes take up to a year to match a vet with a dog, Trotto says with a chuckle, “I was matched with Teka in three weeks.”
Shelter dogs in the Freedom Service Dog program are trained to sense when their owners are stressed in public and will “post,” or “block,” which means Teka moves in front of or behind Trotto when she senses someone is standing too close or crowding him. “She’ll watch my back and that just takes so much off my shoulders. I’ve calmed down a lot,” Trotto says.
“She knows when I’m upset,” he continues. “She knows when I’m having issues or anxiety and she’ll come over and snuggle up next to me and lick my face and put her paw on me.”
Like many vets suffering from PTSD, every day is wrought with anxiety. With Teka, Trotto feels safe. “I have somebody next to my side 24/7. I don’t have to worry about looking over my shoulder. It’s what she does,” he says.
An emotional Trotto credits his rescue dog with literally saving his life. “If it weren’t for Teka I’d be dead right now,” he says. “She’ll let me know everything’s alright and she just gives me that okay, that you’re good. That you’re not alone.”
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It can be easy for people to think tough soldier people have little or no feelings. Us dogs know better!
Thanks so much Teka fur being there at the exact right moment! It was meant to be!
Military peeps are human...so they have (and are expected to suppress...), the same feelings that 'regular' peeps do...not surprising that Trotto had issues,and so glad that Teka could help.
They are no different.. and suffer the same torments of so many.
It is wonderful to see these programmes working so well and giving people back their lives
What a pawsome story!
that was such a great story, thank you for sharing