Lee and Princess
Princess stared longingly at the door, curled up below it, huffing and letting out a slight whine. She had just been dropped off at another home, another somewhere, and there are new people here, and some furry little animal that hissed at her. She was unsure of herself or of what she was doing here. Her life had been difficult and she was constantly moving from place to place. I rested on the couch, watching Princess, my new soon to be service dog. I was nervous, anxious, and unsure of myself, much like Princess at the time. Afghanistan had been rough and after years of counseling, a medical board that led to retirement, and dozens of different medications, I was at a very low point, but, I sought hope still anyways. 3 Months into the training with Princess I was beginning to venture outside more often. Princess was coming along well also, but, still had some difficulties. We struggled together, both of us breaking old habits and making new, better, ones. We were bonding. It felt great to have someone else around the house while my wife was at work and my daughter at school. I wasn't home alone by myself all day left to my own thoughts. The training was a lot of fun, although I admit at first I was apprehensive and socially withdrawn from the others. Jamie, our Trainer worked with us during group, and one on one to iron out the tougher problems that stuck around like Princess pulling and me getting anxious. We had graduates of the program come along too, like Olsen, to help us out and share with us their experiences. I never thought I would ever enter a Mall, or an Airport again. Too many people, too many entrances, too many unknowns. That's where Princess begins her work. She watches my back, she hones in on noises and looks to me and we analyze the situation together. It felt much the same like having a battle buddy around. I know that term is dated and kinda cheesy, but, I've always liked it.
Fast forward through an awesome Graduation and to today. Princess and I went shopping last week. Alone. Me and her. We took on the grocery store, secured it, accomplished our mission, and came home with a full basket of groceries, a months worth of food, for the Commander in Home, Sarah, my wife. We were awarded several kisses and many thanks as she had been too busy to do it herself.
On a real note Princess has helped me leave my home more often, begin making friends again (service dogs are a great conversation starter), and progress through some of my issues. She's laying on her memory foam bed right now, only the best for a Princess, waiting for us to begin our day. We do everything together, go everywhere together, and tackle the rough times. Sometimes the day is just too much and I have to go lay down on my bed to calm down. She has picked up on this and is happy to follow me there and jump up and face the door to the room and guard. She also makes sure I'm okay with several licks. Because licks heal wounds. At least to a dog anyways. At home, without her vest on, she's just a happy dog loved on by her handler. We play, and she does normal dog things like drink out of the water bowl and then drip half a cup of water all over my feet when she comes over after. But, when the vest goes on, she enters work mode, combat ready. Well, maybe just task ready, heh. It's been awesome. Thank you all so much!