Mario, a Veteran and New Life K9s service dog recipient, talks about his experience with PTSD and his new service dog Josie.
“My name is Greg Gallo and I am a retired police officer of 18 years. During my career, I worked in the patrol and traffic divisions. In addition, I had concurrent assignments for much of that time as a crime scene investigator and also as a major injury and fatal collision investigator. Shortly after being medically retired for a neck injury, I began experiencing extreme symptoms of what a psychiatrist ultimately diagnosed as PTSD. For about two years, I tried numerous medications, therapies, and procedures for my PTSD. Some did not work at all, while the others only helped slightly.
When I received my service dog, Eddie, from New Life K9s, my entire life drastically changed for the better. I was finally able to go back out into the world and do all of the things that people take for granted - grocery shopping, concerts, movies, restaurants, going out with friends and family, etc. As a result, not only do I benefit from having Eddie, but my friends and family benefit too because they have me back.
I have had the opportunity to visit both New Life K9s prison programs and speak with the inmate handlers on a number of occasions. Being a retired police officer, I was uneasy about visiting the prison program for the first time. Here I was, someone who put criminals in prison during my career, meeting an entire group of inmates, many of whom have life sentences. It felt like walking into the lion’s den. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. All of the inmates at both programs have been very kind, supportive, and welcoming. They do a great job educating the dogs and are committed to doing good and giving back to the world since they took away from the world by committing their crimes.” -Greg (Retired Police Officer)
“My name is Alejandro. I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for New Life K9s, and my utmost gratitude for all they have done to help me. They introduced me to Nara, who has become my favorite person as well as my service dog. They taught me the basics of dog handling and the things that are possible with the help of a service dog.
I grew up in a poor, unstable home in an underdeveloped town. Deciding to improve myself, I served in the U.S. Army. Unfortunately, I left with a list of mental disorders stemming from traumatic events in my service. I consider it a point of curiosity that I am not homeless, dead, or in prison. It is even more curious that I have seen an improvement in my quality of life when all demographics, statistics and circumstance would place me in any number of negative situations different from my current one. I strongly feel that because of New Life K9s I have started on a path contradictory to expectations. I am sober, in college, receiving treatment and therapy, and I am a better person with a much more optimistic attitude.
Nara helps me in many ways. While I am not physically disabled, even simple tasks can be difficult for me. I could be crippled at any moment by endless symptoms. Something that would slightly anger a reasonable person or inconvenience them is often debilitating for me. With Nara, it is like having a guardian angel who can physically help you. I can interact with people and be in situations that would seem impossible. It gives me a semblance of normality that wasn’t possible before I met with New Life K9s just a few months ago. I feel as if I have made more progress with Nara in 3 months than I have in three years of therapy and treatment. I go through situations every day that would normally cause me to shut down. I waited in line at a gas station today and made conversation with a stranger, and I was happy. When I got in my car, I couldn’t help but cry. Before Nara, the thought of even looking at people would have made me panic. Every day I get a bit of my life back.
The New Life K9s team taught me more than I could have learned on my own. I could carry on a conversation about everyone at Thousand Hills and New Life K9s for days, but it still wouldn’t explain the intricacies that make them so special. It is something that you have to see for yourself to fully appreciate. They are changing people’s lives because they believe that when a dog and human connect, it can heal in ways that we will never completely understand. It doesn’t only affect the handler. It is a goodness that reaches into the hearts of anyone in its vicinity. They do it for free, with limited resources and constant obstacles. Through Nara, New Life K9s has saved my life.” -Alejandro (Army Veteran)