Graduated: 10 Feb 2019
Jeff is a highly decorated United States Marine Corps Veteran who served overseas as an aerial imagery interpretation specialist during the Vietnam conflict. Unfortunately, like a great number of Vietnam Veterans, Jeff came back from the war suffering both physical injuries and extreme mental distress. Jeff’s PTSD caused him severe anxiety such that he could not sleep more than a few hours each night, feeling the need to constantly patrol the house. This lack of rest and never reaching REM sleep further manifested itself with sleep apnea. Anxiety in crowds and always being on the alert made it difficult for Jeff to go out in public with his family, always having to sit with his back to a wall – his mind and body overreacting to loud noises, yelling children, too many people in a small space. Thunder and lightning storms also triggered Jeff’s PTSD. This has gone on since 1970. Thankfully, in November of 2018, Jeff was referred to us.
After completing a home visit and a 4-day transition training session, Jeff adopted The Rescue for PTSD’s first service dog Tuve (“Too-vay”), a lovely female black & tan German Shepherd, on February 10, 2019. A more perfect match could not have been hoped for. Tuve alerted to Jeff’s anxiety during the second day of the transition training and with no cue performed deep pressure therapy to calm him down. As Jeff has already had open-heart surgery and two strokes, Tuve was trained to alert if he falls. She will sit with him and constantly bark until someone hears her and comes to his aid. She is at his side to give him confidence in crowds, and Jeff now regularly goes out with his family to restaurants, as well as bowling and to the movies. Tuve also goes fishing and golfing with him!
Perhaps most importantly, Tuve helps Jeff sleep. He notes that she signals bedtime around 10:30pm and he is able to sleep through the night with her next to him. He has even stopped taking some of his sleeping medications. Tuve’s other skills include fetching a medical kit, retrieving her leash on command, fetching dropped objects, heeling in front of Jeff to give him personal space in crowds, and waking Jeff up from nightmares.
Jeff’s wife notes that he has become more relaxed and is much happier since Tuve has come into his life. He is happiest when she lays in his lap and he brushes her (yes, even though she is over 70 pounds!). He seems to go into another world, and nothing can upset him when he is there. According to Jeff, “Tuve has changed my life.”
After their 1 year check-in, Jeff told us: “Healing is a physical and mental process. My service dog Tuve helps me remain calm and at ease in environments that used to be extremely difficult for me. My friends at Rescue for PTSD have taught me taking a trained dog and then failing to participate with the dog’s acclimation to the veteran, well that is like paying for a prescription and then not taking it. It just won’t work. Tuve lays next to me when I need support, she retrieves items when I can’t pick them up, she protects when I least expect. Her support at night allows me to sleep eight hours, and I haven’t had any nightmares from the time she arrived. She lets me know that there is another way when I become angry. My family has repeatedly expressed that I am a more tolerant and loving father and husband because of Tuve. She has given me a whole new lease on life!”
Visit Tuve’s YouTube page to see videos of her progress!