Chadd has seen a fair share of traumatic events during his 16 year career in the military. After returning from his most recent deployments in Iraq and Kuwait he noticed that something wasn’t right. Chadd began to isolate himself from the rest of the world. At work at the Pentagon, Chadd was able to hide his anxiety, but when he got home, he just stayed there, not wanting to venture out to do the things he previously enjoyed. It took a toll on his wife, Connie, as well. She described him as a different person from her fun-loving husband and she walked around on eggshells so as not to trigger a response from him.
Chadd was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Once he came to terms with it, he decided to get some help. It was during a therapy session at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland that help came in the form of a beautiful strawberry blonde coat on four legs. Laura Lee, a facility therapy dog from Southeastern Guide Dogs, entered the room and immediately Chadd felt more at ease.
After researching service dogs for veterans, Chadd contacted Southeastern Guide Dogs to see if he would qualify for a Veteran Assistance Dog. Shortly thereafter, Chadd was accepted and informed they had a dog for him; Chancie, a petite, sleek black Labrador with a big heart.
Chadd and Chancie spent nearly two days learning to work together on Southeastern’s campus. They bonded almost immediately and Chancie is already working her magic on Chadd. “I realized yesterday that places that would normally trigger anxiety in me, didn’t bother me when along” said Chadd as he lovingly stroked her head.
Chancie has been taught very specific commands to help mitigate PTSD symptoms such as; blocking, to provide personal space; and watching, to look out for people coming up behind. But one of the best skills Chancie has been taught is to hug on command. “Everyone needs a little extra love now and again” stated a grateful Chadd, because now he has Chancie for that.
Images and biography courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs