Lotus is one of five 2022 AKC Awards for Canine Excellence recipients, winning the Service Dog category. This category recognizes task-trained service dogs that enrich the lives of physically or mentally disabled owners. Including but not limited to guide dogs for the blind, seizure-alert dogs, hearing dogs, and balance dogs.
It was only seven years ago that Asia Duhamel was admittedly a “mess and contemplating suicide.” She was an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.
Although she is cleared through the Veterans Administration now, any declaration of disability had to wait until after she left the military. On active duty, she attended intensive outpatient therapy, which included numerous group classes, physical therapy, and recreational activities but art, yoga, or salsa dancing didn’t interest her.
But when she saw two working service dogs at the Wounded Warrior Battalion nearby, it intrigued her.
“Watching them at work, I recognized that a dog might help turn my life around,” she says. “I saw the unspoken connection the owners had with their dogs and visualized how a dog might give me purpose again.”
After obtaining a letter from her physician recommending a service dog partner to mitigate her disabilities, she began exploring local options in Southern California while finishing her four-year hitch in the Marine Corps.