The Light Up To Live Foundation is thrilled to congratulate three Military Veterans and their service dogs on graduating from their training with Canine Companions in Irving, TX – our latest charitable partner.
Through the foundation, Planet Ford Dallas Love Field in Dallas, TX, and Bill Fick Ford in Huntsville, TX, funded two of the dogs, Calgary and Sydney, and Becca, a third fellow graduating service animal. They are now assisting two retirees of the Army, who were enlisted in the 1970s and 2000s. The third served in the Navy in 1980. The Veterans have battled PTS, nightmares, joint injuries, multiple surgeries, agoraphobia, and arthritis.
Meet Calgary & Bob
Calgary is a Canadian-born Labrador. She was trained in Oregon and then placed at Canine Companions in Irving. Even though she came from the north, Calgary doesn’t care for the recent cold snap. On graduation day, she tippy toed around the lawn trying to avoid the cold stones in the play yard. She has bonded with Bob, a Veteran who lives in Kerrville, TX. Bob served from 1978-81. He first served in the 18th Airborne Corps & 82nd Airborne Corp. and the 3rd Armor Division in Germany during the Cold War. “Our job was to delay the Russian tanks for two hours to give our Air Force guys a chance to get to where they needed to go. We were outnumbered in tanks, so I never quite knew how that was going to work out,” he smiled sheepishly.
For years, Bob believed he did not deserve a service dog. He’s been through dozens of surgeries to repair his shoulders, hips, and knees from the damage that he endured as a paratrooper. He has been living “like a hermit” and is looking forward to having the confidence to get outside and out in the community more with Calgary by his side. “She will only sit in the passenger seat in the car,” he said. “I think she likes the full view and sitting next to me.”
Meet Sydney & Willie
A Navy Veteran from Dallas, Willie served in 1980. He endures service-related nightmares and poor balance. His new service dog, Sydney was puppy raised by a group of FFA students at a North Texas high school. Wille had another pet dog he raised from a puppy, but unfortunately, that pup became too aggressive for his family to live with. He knew he needed help, so he contacted Canine Companions to find a service dog that could physically assist him at home and help him get out into the community more. Fast forward to the present, and Sydney looks right at home with Willie. She is super loving and attentive to him and his needs.
Meet Dallas, an Army Veteran who served in Iraq in the 2000s and now lives in the D/FW area. After serving his country, Dallas began suffering with PTS, emotional flareups, and withdrawal, among other issues. He now serves his community as a public school teacher. His family was concerned as he became challenging to live with and even worse when he tried to take anti-depressants. Dallas said they made him feel zombie-like, with no feelings at all. “I can’t unsee what I saw in Iraq,” he shared.
Dallas’ family “ambushed” him and got him to apply for a Canine Companions Service Dog. After a year of communicating back-and-forth, he was notified that service dog “Becca” was ready to serve. She is a black Labrador that was puppy-raised at the Texas Women’s Prison in Bryan, TX. Becca is very intuitive and is already beginning to understand her new owner’s personality traits and tendencies.
Dallas took a big step out of his comfort zone and spoke before the entire Canine Companion graduating class. He shared his gratitude for everyone, especially his wife, who helped him on his path to Becca. He says he now feels “hopeful” and “excited” for the positive change in that he feels is already happening.
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