Pets for Vets Turns Things Around For PTSD Vets

If you're a dog owner, you're more than familiar with the profound effect that ball of fur can have. But you ain't seen nuthin' yet. Once you understand how much this dog means to her owner, it'll hit you right there.


Blade Anthony: DD saved my life, doesn't matter whether she's changed me or whether I am different or I'm better, the fact that I'm here is the number one most important thing that she's done for me. She's allowed me to continue here on this earth for whatever God wants me to do more.

Hi, I'm Blade Anthony and I serve with 5/14 Marines which is an artillery unit out of Seal Beach. I am a corpsman, otherwise known as a doc to the marines, so my duties were to take care of the sick and injured.

When I came back from Iraq it was difficult because coming back here I just didn't fit. I seemed like I didn't belong anymore here. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had nightmares. I had PCS. I wasn't doing very well, substance abuse, liquor. I felt like I was alone and that nobody understood. Nobody gave a damn. It's very difficult, at first, to admit that there's something wrong, that there's something not right, something askewed to your existence, so to speak. We have a saying in the Marine Corps that’s called “Suck it up.” Something goes wrong, you get hurt, you get injured, you keep going. That I remember one night being at my lowest point and not feeling like I wanted to continue any more ‘cause it wasn't worth it.

Clarissa Black: Pets for Vets is a non-profit, a 501(c)(3), where we rescue shelter animals, rehabilitate them, train them and match them specifically to veterans who are suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression.

I first met Blade, he called me and sent an application, and he actually informed me and let me know that he, the day before he had called the suicide prevention hotline. When I read his application, what stuck out to me the most was he wasn't asking for a specific type of dog. It wasn't I want a male, I want a female, I want short hair, I want long hair. All it said was I want a companion. I want somebody to love me. I need somebody to love me. I matched Blade with DD, because the two of them had, their stories were very similar, she'd been through so much. She had scars on her face. He has had scars from his time in Iraq. DD, she's very calm and nurturing, but she also had that playful, goofy side that I knew, when he saw her, when he was going through that and he saw her being playful and goofy, you just couldn't help but laugh, so I thought they would be perfect together.

The day that I introduced Blade and DD was nothing in short of a miracle, it was amazing.

Blade Anthony: She said, “I would like to present to you, in the name of Pets for Vets, this service dog to thank you for your service to our country,” and I opened my eyes, and the first thing I saw were her eyes looking at me. I just fell apart. I felt like that very moment, months and months of not being happy, and not feeling cool, and not feeling right, just got sucked away instantaneously, and I had this overwhelming feeling of the swine to fall asleep.

Clarissa Black: He'd laid down on her bed with her, the two of them together and held her paw, she kind of held him back and you could feel almost this weight being lifted, the tension being lifted, like he took a breath for the first time and they just laid down on the bed together looking at each other. It was beautiful.

Blade Anthony: And I just slept like the first time, peaceful sleep where I didn't have to worry about waking up and not feeling right about what I dreamt about, so yeah, it was amazing from that second that I met her, my life has changed.

Clarissa Black: Pets heal, pets clearly heal. There have been many medical studies that show having a pet lowers stress level and lowering your stress level makes the rest of your body feel a lot better.

Ali Goldstein: Having something, someone to take care of and to be responsible for, that offers you unconditional love and support, can oftentimes keep you from making a decision that you can't take back, like killing yourself.

Clarissa Black: DD has helped Blade immeasurably. He's just a completely different person and he doesn't have those thoughts of suicide. He told me that if it hadn't been for Pets for Vets, he would have become just another statistic.

Blade Anthony: DD's personality's pretty cool, because she's still a puppy. So she still has that puppy fascination like she still cocks her head. A lot of things still make her feel like wow what is that. She has that wonder like little kids do and she's still goofy. She still trips and stuff, and that makes me laugh. I haven't laughed as much as since I got her.

Clarissa Black: They're a perfect match. They needed each other. They had both gone through so much and they’re helping each other heal.

Blade Anthony: If I hadn't had met DD and I wouldn't have ever encountered her, I would not be here talking to you. I would be dead. I would have blown my head off with my nine mil.

I have a message to other vets: Whatever it is that we've gone through or not gone through or whoever it is that we are, you should be proud of what you've done and proud of who you are and accept that there's something that's hurting you and admit, like the marine’s suck it up, admit that it's okay to ask for help.

Ali Goldstein: A lot of times when people are traumatized, they don't talk about their trauma because they feel like it's too much for another person to handle, especially when they’re in the thick of it. They don't want to burden anyone else with their traumatic experience, but being with the dog, I imagine, would be really beneficial.

Blade Anthony: Having been there, I understand why a lot of people want to take their lives. It's not because they're cowards. It's not because they’re selfish. It's because the pain is so intense that the only way you could shut it off is by shutting yourself off.

Goes without saying and I pray that you feel the same way too, ‘cause when I'm far away from you, I’m…

DD has motivated me to do the things in life where you feel excited about what you want to do. I write and sing music and I just started picking up my guitar, and I started singing again, whereas I hadn't done that in a long time. DD rescued me. I'm the rescued person that DD is helping. I'm the one who wasn't doing well. She pulled me out of the doldrums. She pulled me out of the pound. She got me off the streets and she saved my life. I'm just happy to be with her. I'm so happy.

And you are my lover and my best friend. Upworthy is social media with a mission. Read more.

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