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Hope on the Horizon

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

3 min read

Partnerships with Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation and the Broncos are vital to our mission. Hear from Warrior graduate, Eric who was paired with Rocket in 2023, sponsored by Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation and future Service Dogs Bucky & Thunder, sponsored by the Broncos.

Sponsoring future Service Dogs saves Veteran lives.

A Service Dog Made All the Difference

Eric served in the Marine Corps from 1988-92, returning to civilian life with extreme anxiety, night terrors, panic attacks and thoughts of suicide with a near attempt — all stemming from PTSD.

It took a decade for Eric to connect what happened during his years of service to the trauma and grief he carried home with him.

Like so many Veterans, Eric had returned from the front lines with invisible scars. Back then, he didn’t realize the effect those wounds were having on his life and his relationships.

“In 1991 we didn’t understand these things, and the early intervention wasn’t there,” Eric says.

He has since tried many types of medications for his anxiety, but ultimately didn’t want to rely on habit-forming prescriptions.

Therapy helped, but the night terrors and panic attacks persisted, and he hadn’t slept well in more than 20 years.

Thankfully, as Eric began searching the web for more holistic methods of healing, he found K9s For Warriors.

Where he met his Service Dog, a bright-eyed rescue dog, named Rocket. 

He has already brought hope and comfort into his life.

“The grounding work that Rocket does with me is something I’m noticing to be helpful,” says Eric. “He will actually make contact with my lap when I haven’t asked.”

Eric began checking his heart rate on these occasions when Rocket would plop himself into his lap. At one point his resting heart rate was up to 102.

While Eric wasn’t aware of what was happening, Rocket was.

And he knew just what to do to comfort his Warrior.

Having a Service Dog who relies on him is a responsibility and positive focus that helps keep him going.

With two adult daughters who have homes of their own, having a constant companion and source of support by his side has been priceless.

“The grounding work that Rocket does with me is already something I’m noticing to be helpful,” he says.

He’s noticing improvement every day, and credits Rocket for a lot of his recent healing.

“I am sold on the fact that touch, the intuitive spirit of Rocket and the special bond is as essential in my recovery as anything I’ve ever done.”

Eric throws first pitch at Houston Astros game

Thanks to the partnership with the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, Rocket has transformed the life of Veteran Eric.

Bucky and Thunder Join the Broncos

Through the support of Broncos owner Carrie Walton Penner and head coach Sean Payton, the team is sponsoring the training of their first-ever future Service Dogs — Bucky and Thunder.

The black Labrador brothers were born in Alabama and were raised in the K9s For Warriors’ Puppy Raising Program.

Bucky and Thunder traveled to Denver as part of their Service Dog training and made their NFL debut during the team’s Salute to Service game on November 19.

“It’s something that Coach Payton and Carrie have fully embraced, and the team as well,” says Lindsay Grayson, K9s For Warriors Chief Revenue Officer. “It’s about sponsoring this training, but it’s also about saving a life.”

“The Broncos are helping K9s For Warriors put more leashes in the hands of Veterans who have fought for our freedoms,” Lindsay says.

Once training is complete, Bucky and Thunder will each be paired with Veterans who are suffering from the debilitating effects of PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma.

With each partnership, we are saving lives at both ends of the leash.

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