She is patient and thinks the world of me all the while trusting and respecting me more every day. I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve anyone’s love or affection. Sky always reminds me that this thought process is not true. In the end, I want to be the man that Sky thinks I am versus the one I am today. This thought helps me strive to be better and better every day.
Leo and Ellie
My life has changed for the better. I’m still overcoming my PTSD symptoms, but Ellie my service dog…
My life has changed for the better. I’m still overcoming my PTSD symptoms, but Ellie my service dog has been there for me every time. I’ve been home bound since I retired, have issues with crowds and being out in public. With the help of NSSD, and my dog Ellie I’ve been able to slowly get out there and exposing myself to crowds and overcoming my issues. Ellie has been there for me when I have my nightmares at night, or when I’m having anxiety and depression issues. Let’s just say without NSSD and their wonderful staff, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I can’t thank them enough for changing my life, and my overall outlook in the future.
Jacob and Ricky
I was looking at several Service Dog organizations when I came across NSSD on the internet…
I was looking at several Service Dog organizations when I came across NSSD on the internet. When I inquired about the requirements and their operations, I was quickly answered. I had reached out to a couple other organizations and had never heard back. NSSD were very patient and adhering to my specific questions and needs. I immediately began observing the weekly training and saw the group dynamic as very welcoming and understanding. I have had nothing but great experiences with the group and with the organization itself. Having been placed with Ricky, I feel like I began a whole new chapter of life. I have been dealing with my PTSD independently by hiding or avoidance of public interaction. Since Ricky and I have become teammates, we go everywhere I normally wouldn’t even consider. I have been in several situations that would have normally been traumatic or upsetting; however, with Ricky, I have able to undertake these situations by remaining calm and collected. He allows me to understand the true situation and react accordingly. Furthermore, there’s a level of responsibility with having him with me. That being said, I have avoided being in confrontations by merely having him with me. I have stated it’s like having your child with you, you act accordingly. Ricky is like a son to me, a teammate, a battle buddy. We do everything together and everyone we know sees us that way.
Stefan and Bosco
I got Bosco when he was just 8 weeks old; and 2 months before my retirement after 27 years in…
I got Bosco when he was just 8 weeks old; and 2 months before my retirement after 27 years in the United States Marine Corps. For the first year and a half, I trained Bosco primarily as a bird dog and secondarily as a family pet. Bosco is incredibly smart, extremely loyal, and his desire to please made his field training very easy. It wasn’t until January 2018 after one of my semi-annual follow ups with the VA that my doctor recommended that I could benefit from having a service dog. I had been battling with post deployment issues and sleep dysfunction (night terrors, sleep paralysis) since 2008, and my doctor put me in contact with a licensed social worker at the main VA Hospital in Long Beach.
It was then that I was referred to Next Step Service Dogs with the hope of retraining Bosco to be my service dog. It has been an 18-month journey for Bosco and me with many ups and downs, successes and setbacks, but in the end, it has been life-changing. After over a year of remedial obedience training, group socialization work, and one-on-one coaching with Next Step Service Dogs, Bosco is now a certified service dog with the specific tasks of providing mobility assistance in public (extending my personal space) and night terror intervention (we’re still refining this one). My kids used to joke about my “bubble”, an imaginary 5-mile radius I put around our home and would not venture beyond it without it being a significant emotional event for all concerned. Bosco has allowed me to enjoy seeing different places and experience other settings with my family. As for my sleep dysfunction, Bosco sleeps on the foot of the bed and we’re working on his ability to sense and then intervene in my night terrors and sleep paralysis episodes. Stay tuned.
Leslie and Joey
So happy that emergency wait was put on Joey! We always reinforce it since once in awhile…
So happy that emergency wait was put on Joey! We always reinforce it since once in awhile we need to park across the street. This morning, it came in handy. Joey tore off from the front door. I usually have him in a controlled sit at the front door, then I open it. He waits until I go out, then I tell him “Joey, car or Joey, truck.” That’s his cue to go to the back door of the designated vehicle and sit by the door. Then he waits for me to open the vehicle door. The. I tell him “Joey, load.” He hops in. Then he is given his car bone (an antler or femur bone) to munch on while we drive around. This morning I had to get his gear from the truck before going to the car, parked across the street. I told him “Joey, truck.” He went to the back door and sat. I told him “Joey, stay.” He stayed and I got his gear and travel water bowl. Without thinking, I automatically said “Joey, car.” (The car was across the street parked by the curb). I realized it a second after I said it. I basically screamed “Joey, wait!” He came to a hard stop right at the curb, turned around on a dime (it looked goofy!) and sat! I was so overwhelmed in that moment! I’m not an emotional person at all, and you know that. I called him to me, and just gave him a huge hug. I went back in the house, grabbed a handful of kibble and gave it to him. Then we left to go to my That reliable sit and wait is sooooooooooo important. I remember what you said about basics. We work them mostly everyday. ….But it’s so important to keep him working on something. We always find a way. On the job.. we use all that walk time to circle, heel, side, closer, follow, lead, post when I stop, create space, and things like that. I find ways to work him.
River and Doc Stella
Recently she said to me it’s completely unprecedented because in the psychiatry department of the VA…
Recently she said to me it’s completely unprecedented because in the psychiatry department of the VA here they don’t recommend service dogs and I am the first veteran she’s ever done it for. Now I’ve been off the psychotropic drugs and with the use of the dog instead of the pills she has seen great improvement from my condition as a result of the service dog.
I’ll never not have PTSD or have to live with the effects of it but with the use of my service dog Doc Stella and the support of an NSSD have begun to reclaim a small corner of my life and for that I am forever grateful.
Callie and Taylor
My time in the military only made my mental state worse. It not only exacerbated my PTSD…
My time in the military only made my mental state worse. It not only exacerbated my PTSD, depression and anxiety, but also left me with a Traumatic Brain Injury that made me feel completely hopeless. I thought I was doomed to live this way for the rest of my life until I was accepted by Next Step. Though we are still learning how to be an effective team, Taylor has already made a positive impact on my day to day life. I am not saying I couldn’t have survived my life without him, but I am saying that he makes my life just a little bit better every day, because Taylor is slowly teaching me to not just survive, but to live.
Julio and Annie
My name is Julio I am a combat Veteran and I was deployed to Iraq in 2005. I found NSSD…
My name is Julio I am a combat Veteran and I was deployed to Iraq in 2005. I found NSSD through my VFW post in Escondido, CA. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the training and camaraderie built. I was placed with an amazing dog her name is Annie she has changed my life around. Struggling with PTSD, bad back and countless injuries has not been easy on my life and my families. Annie has given me a fighting chance to not be depressed and to not push everyone away. Annie has enabled me to independently go to the stores and public places without my anxiety levels going through the roof. My family has seen the difference in the way I interact with them and spend time with them. I cannot thank NSSD and Annie enough for changing my life. I truly believe that it has saved my life, my family and given me a whole different look at life.
David and Gunner
Next Step Service Dogs have been fantastic, their support both before I was partnered with Gunner…
Next Step Service Dogs have been fantastic, their support both before I was partnered with Gunner and after has been outstanding and significantly contributed to my recovery and continued success after being medically retired. Even three years after being partnered with Gunner they maintain contact and take an active interest in our well-being.
Adam and Sara
Sara assists me throughout the day by calming me around strangers and providing support for my bad knees…
Sara assists me throughout the day by calming me around strangers and providing support for my bad knees. The most important task Sara performs for me is she creates space for me in public so I’m comfortable. My partnership with Sara has improved my life, both as a working relationship and as a companion, by helping to keep me active and out of the house. The activities I like to do with Sara are hiking and camping.
With Sara, I’ve learned responsibility, not only for myself but caring for a dog is new to me. Sara truly is the best dog, she is so empathetic and loving, you cannot help but feel happy and calm around her.