Wow, what a team! We are so happy to announce that Karen and Seven graduated our service dog program on July 11, 2016! They are an amazing pair and Karen attributes her new found confidence to having Seven.
“I am finally finding myself wanting to go places now and get out of my house…by myself. I use to need my husband with me but now me and Seven can do it together. It feels so good and it has been so healthy for me. I am so grateful to Shelter to Soldier™ for providing me with my service dog…my best friend, Seven”. ~ Karen Miller, US Navy (Ret.)
Karen is US Navy veteran that is extremely deserving of a wonderful service dog like Seven. She joined the navy in 1987 and retired after service 26 years. During her service she partipaped in several conflicts while on board navy ships including Operation Preying Mantis in 1988, Desert Storm in 1991 and several other deployments. She served as a military policeman at naval base Treasure Island in San Francisco for 4 years from 1992-1995.
Karen’s last deployment was to Kandahar Afghanistan where she was an embedded trainer advisor with the afghan army for 12 months. She was chosen as a individual augmentee. Once in Afghanistan she worked mostly by herself with an interpreter. Sadly, she had a price on our head and there was constant danger not to mention the nightly rocket attacks. Training and advising also ment going on security patrols which were dangerous due to lack of roads and left over mines everywhere. Karen’s PTSD symptoms showed up about 4 months after she returned. Because she was an individual augmentee, she did not leave or return with a unit from her current command at the time. So she had no support from people she had deployed with. So, Karen isolated herself and just tried to push through. Other medical problems emerged which she believes we’re brought on by living in a very high stress environment for a year and not really returning completely mentally sound. Karen gave her all for our country, it is our turn to give back to her and Shelter to Soldier™ was able to do so by placing her highly trained service dog, Seven, with her.
A little background on Seven:
Seven originally came from a family with three small children whose mother developed a brain tumor. Overwhelmed with the care of his wife and children, Seven’s owner decided to let her go. He was going to drop her off at a high-kill shelter when his cousin, an animal activist, found out and contacted K-9 Heroes Rescue. During Seven’s hasty drop-off, the beginning suspicions of her neglect arose. According to the owner, Seven was left behind “for just a week” in a crate in their garage under the care of a friend that never showed up while the mother was undergoing out-of-town treatment. Seven was not given food, water, or exercise for that time. According to the vet, Seven was so emaciated that it was probably for longer than just a week. The fact that she was not exercised much was evident through her complete lack of muscles and the fact that she could not walk far and even then, walked only with trouble. Seven had never been trained to walk on a leash, did not know basic commands and had no manners. She discovered the joy of toys at the rescue and got along well with other animals. Within a few months, Seven gained 15 pounds, developed muscles and stamina, and was able to go for walks that were several miles long every morning and night. She took quickly to training and was very eager to please. Recognizing her potential as her true colors came through, K-9 Heroes Rescue felt she was destined to be a service dog and contacted Shelter to Soldier™. “The team at K-9 Heroes Rescue are so pleased that we could be a part of Seven’s journey from a diamond in the rough, offering her life and health, as well as getting her to Shelter to Soldier™ where she has an opportunity to eventually be all that she can be.”
Seven’s adoption, time in our training program, and subsequent match with a veteran is sponsored by FINE Magazine and Schubach Aviation. We couldn’t do the work that we do without their support! Special thanks to K9 Heroes Rescue for saving Seven and allowing us to provide her with a fulfilling life as a service dog!
Together we are “Saving Lives, Two at a Time”
*Photo Credit: Allison Shamrell Photography
Other Success Stories
Ben + Tank
San Diego, CA
Tank came into our program in June 2014 through the sponsorship of The Wintercreek Foundation. Ben applied to our program in the Spring of 2015, and was perhaps one of our most driven applicants.
James + Calver
San Diego, CA
Calver is a 3 year-old, male standard schnauzer. His dad, James, applied to Shelter to Soldier™ and was approved to be a recipient due to his diagnosis of TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
Vic + Kira
San Diego, CA
Kira is a loving 4 year old female labrador/pit mix. She was rescued just in time to allow her the opportunity to live a happy, loving and purposeful life.