Service dog soothes veteran
Opus provides a “moment of peace”
Cory, a U.S. Army veteran, was injured in a blast while serving overseas. He returned home with nerve damage, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress (PTS), including symptoms of anxiety, paranoia, and hypervigilance that hospitalized him for a year. When Cory applied for a service dog from FSD, he told us he was “looking for a buddy that will allow me a moment of peace when the anxiety or paranoia hits.”
In early 2019, Cory was accepted into Operation Full Circle (OFC), an innovative FSD program designed specifically for veterans with PTS or traumatic brain injury. The veterans work alongside our trainers for four months to train the dogs provided to them at no charge by FSD. During that time, they bond over shared experiences, learn new skills, and gain confidence and self-esteem. After graduating, participants are invited to assist future OFC members in training their FSD service dogs.
Cory was matched with Opus, a black Labrador retriever who came to FSD as an owner surrender. Opus had received his basic obedience training through Colorado’s Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program and then returned to FSD for advanced training. To help alleviate Cory’s anxiety, paranoia, and low-level agoraphobia in large crowds or open spaces, Opus has been trained to create a buffer zone around Cory in public. “Opus can recognize the stressful moments and help me feel reassured that I am safe,” says Cory.
With Opus to boost his confidence and comfort levels, Cory has been able to more fully enjoy his favorite pastimes, including sled hockey and being a veteran advocate for PGA Hope, an adaptive program that introduces golf to veterans with disabilities.