American Humane Hero Dog Awards - 2017 Finalists
Atlas the Wonderdog — Service
Charity Partner: The Battle Buddy Foundation
Location: Dayton, Ohio
“After coming home from Iraq, struggling with PTSD and dealing with the effects of a TBI from a roadside bomb, I was virtually lost, locked in my own personal prison. I began getting treatment while still Active Duty, which consisted of talk therapy and a single prescription. After getting out of the Marines, I continued treatment with the VA system, and nearly a decade later, the ‘treatment’ consisted of more than 8 different prescriptions totaling more than 33 pills a day...my life felt very sad, hazy, and hopeless...I was lost. Until I found Atlas.
Atlas is not only my service dog but he is my lifesaver. Atlas is a grounding and solid presence when flashbacks, hypervigilance, and the lingering effects of war begin again to creep up my spine. Atlas has been trained to sense these changes in me and then acts to redirect my attention and focus during these overwhelming instances: whether it is to nudge my hand if I am getting anxious, wake me up in the throes of a nightmare or just stand behind me so I know someone has my back. With his presence, I am able to take an active, positive role in my children’s lives.
Atlas has not only completely changed my life, but as the ‘face’ of, and inspiration behind the creation of The Battle Buddy Foundation, he is also a beacon of hope for so many others struggling to cope. A regal reminder that there is hope, that there IS a way to find yourself again after combat and trauma, and that your pains and struggles have value.”