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Mason Crosslin, US Army Ret. is an OIF veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress. For years, he had the support of his service dog, Chase, who helped him cope in society and heal from the wounds of combat. Chase tragically and suddenly passed away from lymphoma in September last year, and Mason reached out to us for support. Overnight, his primary treatment for his PTS was gone as was his dearest companion and sense of security. Mason came to us hurting and afraid but eager for the new adventure ahead.

Griffin understood. Upon coming to the facility a few times to meet and interact with the service dogs in training, Mason quickly realized the bond he was creating with Griffin, and the love she was giving to him. Over time, 5 months in fact, the pair worked together in handler training lessons one to two times per week. Griffin learned to work for her new handler, Mason, and Mason learned a lot about Griffin’s training, and the unique tasks she was trained to support him with.

I just wanted you to know how blessed I was to have Griffin last night. I was having some gnarly nightmares and having her there to put me back in reality after I woke was a game changer. I didn’t lock myself up today like I would have. I am actually exploring Encinitas Park. I’ve lived here two years and never once have I walked down to the park until today.”

On Wednesday, April 13th, Mason and Griffin were celebrated at an intimate graduation ceremony at Poway Veteran’s Park. A week after graduation, Mason attended a Shelter to Soldier™ benefit with The Thursday Club Juniors with over 130 people in attendance. For the first time in a while, he was confident in public and felt safe with Griffin by his side. Her favorite outing with Mason is the gym, where she loves to lick his face with kisses for his every push-up.

Griffin is a gentle, pointer/labrador mix rescue from the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services shelter in Bonita, CA.Griffin’s adoption, care, training through our program, and housing was generously sponsored by Griffin Funding, San Diego-based mortgage bankers dedicated to giving back to our veterans and helping shelter dogs in need. 

A few words from Mason:

“She’s so eager to learn and I’m really enjoying learning a lot about proper dog training techniques which I feel passionately about. I’m so blessed and grateful to have these amazing people in my life! We love our training time!”

“I don’t think I’ve ever walked into the gym not shaking from anxiety. Tonight I wasn’t as shaky. I even said hello to the girl at the desk. In my 2 years at the same gym, I’ve not once said “hello.” I know that seems like such a small thing for most, but for me, simply saying “hello” to someone is a huge accomplishment. I’m so grateful to Shelter to Soldier™ for my new buddy and to be able to have her help me make it through the weekend.”

“If I stay in too long, Griffin starts pacing around the house and bugs me until we go do something. It’s good to have her motivating me to get out. And she can be quite persistent!”

 

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