This shelter dog is on a mission to help those who served — and we’re asking TODAY fans to help start his journey.
Semper-Fi Service Dogs is a charity that rescues pooches from shelters and then, after moths of training, turns the rescued dogs into rescuers for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And Semper-Fi is asking TODAY fans to help name their next dog in training.
The dog will follow in the paw prints of Saazi, a therapy dog now paired with retired Sgt. Jack Lord.
The war in Iraq is never far for Sgt. Lord. All it takes to transport him back to the war zone from his home in Palm Beach, Florida, is the sound of a blown tire.
“I heard it. I felt it for a moment I was there,” Lord said.
Since he met Saazi, a therapy dog trained by Semper-Fi, Lord says his triggers are muted.
“She’s there to help me with anxiety. She’s there to be my buddy,” he said.
Ryan Onda, a veteran himself, trains dogs and matches them with vets.
“When I see the connection it makes, it’s like you know, I might not be rich but spiritually I’m rich because I know I just changed not only that veteran’s life, but just like you drop a pebble in a pond. It changes everyone’s life around that veteran,” he told TODAY.
Vinnie Kucmierowski has suffered from severe nightmares since the Vietnam War, and can become violent at night. But in the past year, he and his wife Linda have welcomed a Semper-Fi dog, Emma, into their home.
Now, when he begins to thrash, Emma wakes him from his night terrors.
If Semper-Fi’s next dog in training is like those who came before, he could make all the difference in the life of a veteran.