Veteran Stories

Firsthand accounts of the unconditional love, service and companionship Canine Companions assistance dogs provide to US veterans through the Wounded Veterans Initiative.

Calvin & Chesney

Calvin, Iraq War Veteran & Service Dog, Chesney

One Team.
Two Heroes.

The Wounded Veterans Initiative

Matthew Keil & Service Dog, Gus

"My biggest struggle has been needing someone else to do things for me."

Matthew, a US Army Veteran from Colorado, enjoys traveling, hunting, martial arts and other sporting events. Matthew and his wife Tracy were married just six weeks when Matthew sustained severe combat injuries in Iraq, rendering him quadriplegic with only the use of his left arm. During his hospital stay he heard about Canine Companions and decided to apply for a service dog.

During an intense two-week training program at Canine Companions, Matthew was matched with Gus III, a handsome yellow Labrador/Golden Retriever cross trained to respond to approximately 50 commands.

Matthew said, "My biggest struggle has been needing someone else to do things for me. I fell in love with Gus the first night he came home with us. No more do I have to depend on others all the time — and that means a lot!" There were only a couple of things Matthew could do by himself since the injury but now he said, "Gus allows me to be so much more independent. It's easier to get around and having a buddy by my side to do things with has changed our lives."

First Lieutenant Jeffrey Adams & Service Dog, Sharif

"Now I know how wonderful it will be and there are new possibilities for me that I didn’t expect ."

"Having a Canine Companions assistance dog has really changed my life,” shares First Lieutenant Jeffrey Adams as he graduated from Canine Companions Team Training in with his new service dog Sharif. This is a powerful statement coming from a man who has experienced major life changes since 2004.

On November 7, 2004, Jeffrey lost his leg to a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. Since then, Jeffrey has recovered from his injury and walks with a prosthetic titanium leg. Additionally, he has learned to ski and is a professional ski instructor helping severely wounded veterans learn to ski and experience the thrill of sports post injury, just as they did before their injuries.

Service seems to be the commonality in these major life changes for Jeffrey. He lost his leg in service for our country. He volunteers to serve other disabled veterans by showing them they can still learn and enjoy new sports. And now he has a Service Dog, Sharif, from Canine Companions for Independence.

Independence is a part of who Jeffrey is. Katie, his wife, explains, “He’s as independent as his stubborn brain will let him be.” Now, Sharif can help Jeffrey express his independence. “When I first heard about Canine Companions for Independence, I thought I don’t need a canine companion. Now I know how wonderful it will be and there are new possibilities for me that I didn’t expect,” shares Jeffrey.

Questions? Please email us, or call:

800.572.BARK (2275)

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