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Veteran Reflects On Assistance Provided By His Service Labrador

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Veteran Reflects On Assistance Provided By His Service Dog 2AJ, A Labrador Retriever, is former US Army Veteran, ChrisMaddeford’s best friend and service dog!

This Labrador helps Maddeford with almost every task that we take for granted. The dog fetches his keys and cellphone, open doors, switches off lights and even get his own leash. Most importantly, AJ is a great “snuggler” who provides comfort when Chris is sad or upset.

Maddeford, 31, a Boston native who now lives in Chicago told the Chicago Sun Times, “When I came home, I had all these injuries from the war. I had a really hard time adjusting, really hard time fitting back in. I didn’t feel normal. I didn’t really have a purpose or any hope. And it wasn’t until I got AJ that it kind of brought me out, basically back into society.”

Maddeford was a member of the military police. In 2003 a bomb detonated in Afghanistan, killing some of his fellow soldiers. He continues to recuperate from the injuries he suffered in the blast.

AJ accompanies him everywhere.  Chris suffered a brain injury which causes him to lose balance frequently and AJ keeps him walking straight as they walk side-by-side.

“He basically is smarter than most humans. But the main thing is I have a lot of falls, and if I fall, he speaks on command. If I fall and no one is around, he’ll go outside and he’ll speak until someone comes.”

AJ, the Labrador Retriever is part of the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, specifically of Canines for Combat Veterans program.

Ira Kaplan, a veterinarian and director of medical services at NEADS, said “They are companions, but what they really do is they stop the feeling of loss. It allows people to focus on another individual, and not their own issues.”

Dogs really are man’s best friend. They give the unconditional love and effort all Veterans deserve. There are a lot of veterans on the waiting list, wanting to get a dog like AJ.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

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