human, PTSD, Veterans, Veteran Suicide, Combat Veterans, Veteran PTSD

My name is Astro and I have the best job in the world as a service dog to a human named Helyn who was in the army.

She suffers from PTSD and vertigo. She must have seen some bad things in the army way before we were family. I know she did because she has days that she shakes a lot. And I lay my head on her knee and look up at her to comfort her. Because I am good at that.

I go with her everywhere. We are a team but we are much more than that. I’m completely loyal to her and she to me. What I do as a service dog is help her up and down the stairs and stepping up on curbs. My job is to help her maintain balance to prevent falling and I let her know if I sense the vertigo before she experiences symptoms.

Besides protecting Helyn, my favorite thing in the world is to fetch the ball. I’ll do anything to get my human to throw me that ball.

I also love to go on walks, do tumblesalts in front of her and get my belly rubbed. Being silly makes my human happy and she needs that from me.

So there was one day when my human was not the same. We dogs know it when something isn’t right.

She was not herself, like in a trance. I noticed this object in her hand that I did not like and it made me uncomfortable. I know she used it in the army. And I know this object could hurt people and it makes a really loud noise.

I didn’t like the way she was holding it and I knew something was wrong so I used my nose and tried to get in between her hand and that bad object.
Then I had an idea and went and got my ball

My human has a hard time refusing to throw the ball for me. Like I said, we’re very close. So I brought the ball to her and she let’s go of that other object and she holds the ball and throws it. Aha! I get it as fast as I can and I bring it back again.

I also nudged with my nose to get in between that object and her hand. I felt a little panicked but stuck with the plan. I just had to get that ball fast and come back. Again and again and again. And I kept doing that. I kept nudging that hand with the bad object to put the good object, my ball, in her hand.

After a while, she came out of the trance. She was OK again. She was the person I know and she put away that bad object that makes a loud sound and I was so relieved I wagged my tail and turned over to have my belly rubbed. (I get stressed, too.) My human hugged me and cried and we were both relieved.

I was afraid I would lose her that day–the person I love most in the world. Nobody ever taught me what to do for this. I just used my instincts and it worked. I’m a happy dog.

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