|Wounded Veteran Initiative Featured on Fox|
Featured on Fox-San Diego, watch how Canine Companions Service Dog Chesney helps his partner Calvin.
Calvin Smith retired after a decade in the U.S. Marine Corps, including two tours in Iraq in the Infantry. During his first tour, Calvin was in a humvee accident while in pursuit of some Iraqis who had stolen explosives. His vehicle hit a tank hole at 45 miles per hour and Calvin suffered a herniated spine. After he recovered, Calvin volunteered for another tour in Iraq. Unfortunately, his back was reinjured from the force of IED explosions.
He returned to the United States and underwent surgery, but his recovery was interrupted by a motorcycle accident. As a result of his injuries, Calvin struggled with balance and limited mobility. No longer able to serve in combat, Calvin was assigned to the Marine Liaison Office at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital in California. In this position, he found resources to help the wounded Marines coming back from active duty.
Calvin first heard about Canine Companions for Independence through the Wounded Warrior Battalion, where he met Facility Dog, Jonah, and was encouraged by his command to apply for his own assistance dog. During an intense, two-week Team Training program at Canine Companions, Calvin was matched with Service Dog Chesney, a handsome black Labrador trained to respond to approximately 50 commands. Calvin said, “Chesney is an amazing friend. I don’t have to rely on other people as much any more since Chesney picks things up for me all the time. He also opens doors for me, which really helps save me from back pain.” Calvin said the Team Training was an amazing and life-changing experience, adding, “It’s huge to be able to do things on my own again. It’s like I finally have my life back from before my injuries.”
Read more stories on the veterans partnered with assistance dogs.