How My Service Dog Saved My Life
Help for Patients Suffering with PTSD Through K9s forWarriors
By Andrew Davis
I moved to Norfolk about six years ago after serving in the U.S. Army National Guard for 10 years. The adjustment wasn’t easy – the nights were the worst. My body knew I was exhausted, but my mind had other ideas. Every evening, I would go to bed knowing that in just a few hours’ time I would be forced awake by a nightmare.
This became my nightly routine, and my daily routine became a combination of trying to stay awake and avoiding mistakes at work caused by a constant state of exhaustion.
Doctors prescribed medication to manage Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but I was still suffering. I felt like I was digging myself deeper into a hole where I was constantly taking medicine while still experiencing drastic symptoms.
At this point, I knew there had to be a different solution. My research led me to an organization that would change my life forever.
K9s For Warriors is a non-profit that pairs service dogs with veterans living with military-related trauma. I remember feeling nervous to attend their training program, but my case of nerves melted away when I locked eyes with Lenny.
Lenny, a golden retriever, was chosen to help with my unique symptoms. There was an instant connection when I met him. In that moment, I was overcome by a sense of calm that I hadn’t felt since before my service. Without a doubt, Lenny has saved my life.
If I wake up at night, Lenny is right by my side to offer comfort. I’ve eased a lot of tension around my daily routine. Something as simple as going to the grocery story used to be daunting. I’d often feel a sense of urgency to leave the store without finishing my shopping. Now, if I begin to feel overwhelmed at the grocery store, Lenny comforts me until the moment passes.
With Lenny, I have my life back.
I hope more people can see the immense value that service dogs can have for veterans or anyone suffering from trauma. I feel better knowing I don’t have to worry about a public panic attack.
- I carry business cards for K9s For Warriors with me everywhere. Oftentimes when I meet veterans, I pass them a card when we shake hands. They won’t say anything when I do this, but they thank me with a look. They know I under-stand what they’re going through.
2. I encourage people in the area to get involved if they can. K9s For Warriors offers opportunities to host a community event, sponsor a dog, or partner with businesses of all sizes. To learn more about the organization please visit K9sFor Warriors.org.
I also want to thank my doctors and the people of Norfolk for being so welcoming to me and to Lenny. This community has truly benefited my recovery, and I’m so grateful to call Norfolk home.
Andrew Davis served as a lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard from 2003-2012. Originally from Maine, Andrew moved to the Norfolk area almost six years ago and is proud to call Virginia home.
For more information or to schedule an eligibility appointment, visit gmcareclinic.com or call (804) 210-1368.