I want to start out and say thank you to everyone who donated to help me get Hero. It means a lot to me. He has been great for me, but it was not always that way. I am not sure if I was going to tell you everything but I always have been honest and straight forward not sugar coating anything. I will not use names or mention any company names in this though. Some of you might know where I got Hero from, so I ask you not to mention their names or business if you comment on this.
I started raising money for him I want to say around June 2013. I found out I had enough money to finally get him around October/November 2013. I could not wait, it seemed like it took forever to raise the money.
I want to say a special shout out to a few people who help me out greatly. I will not name names, but they know who they are. The people from the American Legion who put together the Chicken BBQ, the people who helped put together a bike ride and who set up auctions of jewelry to help me raise money.
Thanks to my mother for getting in contact with a few people at the local paper that did articles for me.
That put the word out which got people interested in helping me out. I am also a member of the masonic lodge and two good wonderful brothers went around to all the local lodges helping me raise money. Without these people I am not sure if I would have ever raised enough money to get Hero.
I found out October/November 2013 that I finally raised enough money to get a service dog; they said they had one in mind for me but kept changing which one they wanted to give to me. I thought I had some say in which one but I guess I was wrong even though their website said I did. Oh well I am happy with Hero.
I thought I did enough research on the organization to get my service dog from. They offered help with someone that was supposed to help me raise the funds, but they really didn’t do much but took credit for a lot of things. I felt like I was doing everything myself, I was going to have a golf event and spent a lot of money on getting flyers printed up, and taking them around also spending a lot of time on the phone with people trying to get things donated. Well that was canceled due to that the person who was supposed to be doing this stuff didn’t do anything and decided to cancel the event. I should have realized something at this point that things were not right with this company but it was too late to change my mind.
I finally got to meet my service dog January 13, 2014. The first time meeting Hero was amazing, it felt like this big huge pressure was lifted off my chest and I would not have to ever walk down this lonely dark tunnel alone. Before Hero, I drank myself to sleep. The zillion medications they had me on were not really helping I was still having all these ups and downs and all over the place. I was sick of the medications, I was sick of walking down the dark tunnel alone. Yeah I had a wife beside me but it is hard to open up and tell her every little bit of things and she could not always be there since she has work herself.
The week of training on site with the “training” staff was not worth my time really. They acted like they were doing me this huge favor. I had to pay for my own way down and back. I had to pay for my own hotel room while I was there. Granted I didn’t mind doing all this. I just wish the time I was there was used better. We would not start training for the day until around 9-930 and would stop training around lunch.
The first day was really a total waste. I got to touch Hero and that was about it. The second day I got to brush him and take him around this “course” once. The course is couple of cones shaped out to be a square you walk around that at different speeds, and then you put the dog in a down position behind a large tube and walk away for a few min. Then you have the dog go up on a “table” and have them in a down stay again walk away. That is the “course”. We were done for the day shortly after lunch.
Day two we went to a park and I got to do nothing, but watch this “trainer” work with my dog. Again we were done shortly after lunch. I started to really think what the heck is going on here. I asked the trainer when do I get to take Hero with me, since the trainer’s wife told me I could take him back to the hotel with me. Well I was told wrong, reason was he was too bonded to the trainer and I am not ready for that. Really you think that since I have not really done jack for training.
I went back to the hotel room thinking what the heck is going on here….is this really all the training I get. Day three I asked how Hero was going to help me with my PTSD; I was told we will get to that. We had a lot to do today….I was thinking alright this is where we get into some good stuff. Well we went around the “course” a few times. Then we went to the park, where I was told I get to handle Hero because I am such a great student and doing well this would not normally be happening just yet. Then lunch time came and training again was over.
Went back to the hotel room again, thinking…that was a lot of busy training? The trainer was prior military and he calls that a busy day. I was thinking come on, I am missing something here so far we have not done much of anything, and this is really getting on my nerves. But it was too late to turn back I have a lot invested into this already.
So day 4 again we didn’t start until 9-930ish. This is a late start of the day if you ask me. Well we did the “course” a few times today, and did a “test” going around the course while the trainer watches. Then we loaded up my truck and drove an hour to a beach area. As we drove I asked the “trainer” what Hero was trained to do to help me with my PTSD. I forget what his answer was but it was more like beating around the bush and not a direct answer. Well we worked for I want to say 30min then we stopped and got lunch and we were done for the day.
I was told that all I needed to do was to pick up Hero on Friday and I could be on my way home. Well I drove back to the hotel really confused and wondering what the hell did I get myself into. Why did I waste all this time and money? This has to be a joke. I have to be dreaming this is all the training I get. Why do they keep avoiding my questions?
Well Friday came I didn’t need to show up until 10 or so. Did a couple pictures and loaded Hero up and I was on my way back home. Again I asked about the PTSD and got some run around answer. By this time I was thinking just get the hell out of here and you will work through it one way or another.
I had a lot of time to think about everything I had an 8 hour drive back home. Man I was upset, but I thought we can do this we will work this out. Well a short time later I called the trainer and asked him about what Hero was trained to do when I have nightmares, flashbacks etc. and again you know it I got the run around and ignored. I also asked him why Hero was going to the bathroom in the house, I was told I need to keep him in the cage when I am not training him, or outside with him. I thought how the heck is he supposed to do his job if he is caged all the time?
Things just went downhill from there on out with this company. I wrote a blog and I guess the trainers wife who is also a trainer thought I was bashing them, I forget which blog it was I think is was a late January early February one in case you all want to go back and find it.
I was called up and told that I ruined the dog, I was not worthy of ever having a dog, and a lot of other words were used to degrade me and put me down. All this because I kept asking questions about how Hero was trained to help me with my PTSD. I was also told to bring the dog back to them right away. I said give me my $20,000 back and I will. Oh no that was not my money the dog was paid for by the money the non-profit raised. I said like hell am I bringing Hero back. I was then told that I would be hearing from his lawyer and they will come get the dog from me. I was thinking oh shit what did I get myself into. No way in heck am I going to give up that easy on something I busted my tail to get.
I waited and waited never heard a thing from this “trainer” or anyone connected to them in anyway what so ever to this day I got nothing which is fine by me. I dare them at any time to try and take Hero away from me. They will have the biggest fight ever had on their hands.
Well Hero was never properly trained to do anything but, sit, stay, heel and lay. He was not properly house broken when I got him. He was never in a house before, the “trainer” kept them in a kennel the whole time. Heck they didn’t even train him they got him from Europe and the people over there did all his training. Well I meet someone about a month or so after I raised all the money to get Hero who trained dogs for all different things. I thought he might be able to help me out, but why would he? It is not his dog. So I thought I would give it a shot and call him and see if he would be willing to help me out.
I first thought I can send Hero to him and he can properly train him and everything would be all good. Well that would be in the perfect world. He told me if I wanted to do that, it would cost me I forget the number he said. No way in heck could I afford to send Hero away for training. He did offer to help walk me through some stuff, tips and tricks etc. to get Hero properly trained for free. He just could not take on this project in person without getting paid. Which I totally understand that time is money deal.
So he walked me through a lot of things and spent a lot of time with me on the phone talking about everything I needed to do and how to do it. Which I am totally grateful for because without his help I am not sure what I would have done. So now Hero and I have slowly trained and helped each other out through this rough patch. He is also where I will be getting my next service dog from, not the place where I got Hero from.
The bond between Hero and I grow deeper and deeper. I am not sure what I did before I had him. Yes I still have medications I take but not as many as before and not as strong.
There are times when we go out, that it seems like a lot of people stare at us and whisper things to each other. At first this got to me and bugged me a lot over time though this does not bother me as much anymore.
Hero has helped me through a lot of rough days. There are days when I don’t feel like even getting out of bed to do anything but he makes sure I get out of bed to at least take him out to go potty. He is always there to give me a lick when I start to feel down and sad. He is also there to get my attention when I start to stress out or have flash backs. I am not going to tell you how many times he had to get my attention while I wrote this blog.
He even wakes me up when I have bad dreams. Just wish he would get a little quicker on that one. I still have some night sweats with him around but they are not as bad as they use to be. All because he is there to wake me up before they get to bad. He is there for me more than anyone could realize. He means so much to me.
When we first got paired up, the bond was ok you are here I am there type deal and watches from a distance. Now if I go outside or anywhere without even if it is a quick second out of his site he acts like I have been gone for years. It is kind of nice knowing that someone misses you that much. No the wife does not get that excited when I leave her site for a second nor do I really want her to go crazy like that. It is just different when a dog does it compared to being a stalking whack job if a human did it.
Hero knows how to give me some scares though. We had to get him fixed because his prostate was swollen that was a scare for a while hoping it would help and the swelling would go down. Then came these itchy spots that cost me a few hundred dollars each time he goes to get the medications and such. Right now I think we got that under control thank goodness. Other than those things he is a healthy 3 year old German shepherd that has more energy than I don’t know what. He does do a lot of things to make me laugh. Like how crazy he gets with a water hose, or when you kick up leaves in front of him he will chase and try to grab them.
He loves to play fetch, but he never brings it back to you unless you have something else to throw for him to go after. I am still trying to figure out how to get him to play fetch the right way. Just one of those simple things they would have had him trained to do already.
There are days when I don’t want to do anything but he will keep bugging me to play with him, he knows each time I feel better after I play with him. He also knows when I didn’t take my meds and he will keep bugging me and nudging me until I take them.
He is an amazing dog. He is my best friend. I can tell him anything and everything and he won’t change the way he looks at me or sees me. Somehow he knows just the right thing to do at the right time to do it to make me perk up a bit.
Come Aug of this year we had a baby girl. Hero is so great with her. He gets the spots on her that he thinks are dirty. He watches over her like a hawk. He is a great dog to have.
I am not sure how I made it this far in my life without him. I dread the day he will not be here with me. Everyone says that their dog is part of the family. Well Hero is not only part of my family but he is part of me. We do everything and go everywhere together. If you want to be friends with me you have to earn his respect and trust first. He makes sure that no one that tends to do harm to me gets close to me.
We like to go to Lowes and walk around just a place where he can be without his vest especially when it is raining outside. I think we go so much that everyone knows him. Even before that the people were always nice and friendly to us. So thank you Lowes for allowing us to come in without having to work. I used to not talk to anyone, or want to be around anyone. But with Hero I tend to feel safer and be able to talk to people.
It has been a long hard year from when we first started together till now. It took a lot of training and we still are training with each other to cover up the gap that he was not trained in before. I was not sure if we would ever get to this point in life, but I am glad he stuck with me and I stuck with him.
Before I make this go on forever and repeat myself, which I am sure I have already I will end this here.
I hope you all enjoyed and got a little insight.
Don’t Ever Give Up!!!
Together WE Can Save Lives!! #TWCSL
Pull yourself up by the boot straps.