GALES FERRY, Conn. (WTNH) — “I was taken off guard. It was the best most wonderful surprise, one of the best I’ve ever had,” said Rashad Anderson of the moment he received a puppy named Togo who will be his friend and service dog.
The U.S. Army veteran has had six deployments in places like Iraq, Afganistan and Somalia. He has experienced his fair share of trauma.
“Not all wounds are visible. A lot of civilians don’t know what we go through,” he said.
“Having a dog, a companion, something to care for, gives you that purpose,” said Ryan Landry of Gales Ferry.
Landry traveled to a suicide awareness run in North Carolina, partnering with organization Through Tragedy Comes Light to donate the puppy. He is a dog lover and founder of Everlasting Veteran, a podcast supporting veterans’ mental health.
“The podcast is the vessel. It helps other veterans get their stories out so they can touch another veteran or first responder,” Landry said.
And he now plans to donate six puppies a year.
This time, he worked with Rock-n-Frenchies in South Carolina, co-owned by his brother-in-law, a former marine who was really helped himself by a service dog.
“I got the dog and it really helped me because I was in a dark place for a long time,” Ronnie Narine said.
He and his wife Malinda say a small dog, like a French Bulldog, can make a great service animal — especially for a veteran with physical challenges.
“They are just as trainable as your common service dogs like German Shepards and labs,” Malinda said.
“A lot of people say that we suffer in silence and I’ve suffered in silence,” said Anderson, who knows this new relationship will help him.
He plans to take Togo fishing and enjoy his company for many years to come.
“Sometimes when we have those panicking modes, he’ll be there for me, just to be my little buddy. I’ll look at him and know that everything will be OK,” Anderson said.
Everlasting Veteran will be supplying a years’ worth of food for the dog and the training.
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