During his years at Princeton University, Victor Prato kept his schedule packed with football, engineering and ROTC. Upon graduation, Victor joined the United States Army, was promoted to First Lieutenant and deployed to Afghanistan.
On one of his first command missions, at what should have been a routine stop, a suicide bomber blew the doors of their 20-ton armored vehicle, ejecting Victor and rolling the vehicle twice, which landed partially on top of him as he hung off the edge of a ditch.
The attack left Victor seriously wounded, but still filled with hope.
During his extensive recovery at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Victor was presented with a Purple Heart Award. He spent many months working hard in rehab and recalls thinking, “You know, I almost died without having a dog.”
Two years after his injury, Victor received his first dog. It was an expertly trained service dog from Canine Companions, and a doorway to the future. Since then, Service Dog Barbossa has helped Victor regain independence and joy.
“Barbossa is trained in so many tasks, like picking up items I drop and pulling my wheelchair, which help me physically. He also encourages me to interact with the world in a way I otherwise wouldn’t.”
After many years of uncertainty, Barbossa has also provided a sense of consistency.
“Having a Canine Companions service dog is one of the few things that has panned out the way it was supposed to in the months following my injury,” says Victor. “Barbossa’s made such a in impact on my mental health – we support each other.”