A U.S. Army Veteran’s Lifeline

a man sitting on a bench with a black lab in a blue service vest sitting on the ground at his feetThe year was 1990, and the United States was on the brink of entering the Gulf War. In the midst of a chaotic time in the world, Tarik, an Army soldier stationed in Europe, found himself facing stressors. But, he thought that if he just buried the emotional stress, then he wouldn’t have to confront it.

After his time in the service, he shifted his focus toward his academic pursuits in both undergraduate and graduate school. However, as the pandemic hit, he found himself caught in a perfect storm, facing the loss of several family members and an autoimmune diagnosis that worsened his other medical conditions. This unfortunate combination sent him on a downward spiral, and his symptoms became even more intense. Tarik knew he had to tackle these challenges; he realized he needed help.
That’s when Tarik recalled a conversation he had with a fellow veteran, who shared that his service dog had been an immeasurable help – and Tarik applied for a service dog from Canine Companions, and he was matched with Walter.

Together with Walter, they get through the good and the bad days. Walter intervenes by nudging and laying on Tarik’s feet to bring him back to a balanced state of awareness; he also serves as the “canary in the coal mine,” alerting Tarik before his emotional state becomes compromised.

“Applying for a service dog was one of the best decisions I’ve made in 30 years. Walter is my lifeline,” Walter shares.