This is a personal account written by Robin, the wife of one of our Warrior/K9 teams, Josh & Cabo.
I think I’m pretty lucky.
I get to wake up every morning, roll over and see my adoring husband, Josh, snuggled up to a cute, chubby blonde named Cabo.
But don’t worry – Cabo is his Service Dog, and she has changed his life, and mine, in ways I still don’t understand.
Josh always jokes that he thinks about his life in terms of “Before Robin (B.R.)” and “After Robin (A.R),” and I always thought that was just a sweet thing he said to make me feel good. But now, I think of our lives as “Before Cabo (BC)” and “After Cabo (AC),” so I totally get it.
I met Josh about eight years ago, and he was very open about the fact that he had PTSD, TBI, and all the things that go along with that. Honestly, looking back, I had no idea what that meant. Sure, I’d seen the shows and movies, but it wasn’t something I really understood, and certainly not the nuances of what that can mean in day-to-day life.
At first, the excitement of a new relationship hid the harder parts of his life. Small excuses to not go places didn’t seem like anything I needed to concern myself with; his inability to sleep was chalked up to just being “too wound up” to sleep… you know the drill.
But over time, and really, without me noticing, our life together started to resemble something I didn’t really recognize. I went most “fun” places alone or with “my” friends; I shopped alone while Josh waited in the car; I made excuses for him not joining me at events. I’m fairly independent, so it was okay, but it certainly wasn’t ideal.
2019 came and we hit some big lows as a family. I miscarried my first pregnancy, and a few months later, our relationship had degraded to something that I didn’t recognize. I didn’t know the man Josh had become, and I certainly did not like what our relationship looked like.
My world was crumbling.
I found out I was pregnant in early 2020, and we hit a fork in the road.
After a lot of therapy, soul-searching, tears, and work, Josh decided that he didn’t want to lose what we had, and he began looking for new tools to arm himself with. Traditional talk therapy obviously hadn’t cleared all the obstacles in his way, nor had the medication, so it was time to adjust and try something new.
That’s when he found K9s For Warriors. I remember discussing the program, the process, the responsibilities with him; pros and cons, realistic expectations, what it would mean for him, for us, for our existing fur babies. I also remember thinking something along the lines of “I don’t care how much more poop there is; I NEED him to do this!”
Then COVID-19 hit, and we buckled up for a long, long wait.
We were incredibly lucky to have the support of family, friends, therapists, physicians, and another veteran program that kept us strong until Josh got THAT call.
End of August 2022 and Josh gets the call that they have an opening in their Florida class that starts on Labor Day weekend; does he want to go?
Then the last-minute panic and questions started: “Do we REALLY want this?” “How can a dog ACTUALLY help anything?” “Won’t this just be another THING to take care of in addition to our two tiny humans and the two dogs?”
But all of this was overshadowed by the desperation to find, if not a solution, a major improvement to what we were experiencing.
With the loving words of, “Get your rear in gear!” I sent Josh off to Florida to go meet his new Service Dog.
Josh met Cabo on Labor Day of 2022, and life has not been the same since.
I instantly could tell that he was much more at ease existing in the world. Our relationship is better for so many reasons I can’t even begin to understand. Josh is more settled: he goes grocery shopping alone, he sleeps through the night, he suggests going out to the fun places together — as a couple!
This isn’t to say that everything is perfect every day, but every day is remarkable and wonderful.