Meet Ken, a former Army Supply Sergeant E5 who partnered with Healing4Heroes™ and his life changed forever. Before being with Ken, Spirit, a Carolina Dog, was skin and bones off the streets. Ken never could have expected a dog left for dead to have such an immense impact on his future quality of life. The dynamic duo began in December 2018, and now they’re inseparable.
The thought of having a dog, let alone a service dog, had never crossed Ken’s mind. Since his previous dog that passed five years prior, Ken didn’t want another dog, but his psychologist had other ideas.
“I was convinced by my psychologist to get a dog for my problems, and when I met her in December , it was instant love! We picked each other, we really picked each other”
Since their meeting, the companions have made impressive progress. Spirit now is able to warn Ken when a seizure is approaching. Spirit is alert and ready to see the premature signs with just enough time to let Ken prepare. She will bang her head against Ken’s leg when she senses an episode coming on. When she does this, Ken is now able to prepare, and move into a safe, secure position and space. Before having his four-legged accessory, Ken would drop to the floor and black out, causing potential danger to himself and possibly those around him. This dramatic quality of life improvement has left Ken more gracious than ever towards his psychologist and Healing4Heroes™.
Of course for Ken, loving Spirit comes even easier because she behaves so well, and he is supported so strongly by his loved ones.
“My wife lovingly supports me, my daughters I believe are jealous, and my grandchildren love her.”
One of the reasons Spirit is so prized by everyone she encounters, is because Ken has trained her so well. Outside of the provided training sessions, he is constantly looking towards improvement.
“You have to put in your time. I trained her here [provided Healing4Heroes™ training classes] and I also have around 1200-1300 hours that I have put into her at home towards training her. If you don’t do the work, you don’t get the results.”
Because of all the hard work the couple puts into their training, Ken feels completely comfortable bringing Spirit anywhere he goes. From his grandkids’ baseball games and ballet lessons, to a black-tie gala, Ken puts total trust in Spirit. On a day-to-day basis, he brings her to Synagogue and on business calls, which his clients love. Wherever he goes, people accept her because they know she is a service dog, and will behave.
“She comes and you don’t even know she is there.”
Ken is looking forward to his two-week cruise in December with high hopes. He is taking his wife on the trip, and if Ken is going, Spirit will, of course, be attending. In order to visit a series of islands with Ken and his spouse, Spirit has to go through a number of shots and tests. There are many hoops to jump through, but for Ken, it is all worth it to be able to take Spirit with him, as things wouldn’t be the same without her by his side. He holds Spirit to high standards because he knows her abilities.
“Most people don’t realize, they’re working dogs, they’re not pets.”
After all the training, and working, Ken knows at the end of the day, Spirit is still a dog. Understanding this, he make sure to give her at least 1-2 hours a day to play in the backyard and enjoy ‘just being a dog.’
Taking a moment to step back, Ken is grateful for the family he has at Healing4Heroes™ and all the additional support he has. He knows all the value that Spirit brings to his well-being and wants nothing less for those who are going through the same suffering.
“Any veteran who has any problems, don’t hide it from other people, just know that you have the problem because these dogs are here to help you.”
Ken strongly believes in the work Healing4Heroes™ does and recognizes the staff that have helped him through the process. He knows that others can greatly benefit from the same people that have poured so much into him.
“The people here will give you the shirts off their backs. Definitely come here, the dog will help.”
Ken dreams of his fellow veterans not going through their struggles alone, being able to have a new, better quality of life.
Visit https://Healing4Heroes.org/donations to help give hope to another veteran or volunteer your time if you’re in the Georgia area. Veterans can apply and get on the waiting list by going to https://Healing4Heroes.org/application.