Dillon: In-Training Service Dog

After graduating high school in 2003, I was eager to serve my country. Due to the fact that the president at that time, the honorable President Bush, was not accepting applications from untrained 18-uear-old men for his special task force, I figured the Marine Corps would be the next best option. After nearly a year, I completed all my entry-level training. From boot camp to my occupation training, I then returned to the quiet little nest that was Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. With no bad guys in site, I was far from any war going on at that time. Six years later, I found myself transiting to Iraq in hopes to finally do my part in this nation’s lengthy endeavor. By the time I arrived in 2009, the war in Iraq had transitioned from a constant parade of bombs, bullets and body bags, to humanitarian operations and skillful execution of removing the few remaining Marine Corps combat elements still in country. After nine months, I didn’t fire a single shot. Less than five months after returning home, I was back in the dirt. This time, a mountainous environment, full of rocks, hills and mortar fire. In less than a month, the enemy was engaging our camp and our Marine units all over Helmand province. After eight months in country, I had traveled, patrolled and shook hands with Marines, locals, and other service members in three different provinces of Afghanistan. By October, my time was up. The deployment was far from over, but my last patrol landed my bloody body on a casualty evacuation helicopter bound for the hospital and within weeks, I was stateside. After nearly a month, doctors determined I would lose my left eye, my right would suffer irreversible damage, leaving me legally blind, and my rockin’ hot body was reduced to mush, simply because they didn’t have a decent gym at the naval hospital I was currently posted at. By 2013 I was cleared medically and physically fit, with limitations, to return to the fleet and continue work as a United States Marine. It was not until 2016 that I met the fourth love of my life, a Rottweiler by the name of Dillon, who would one day become my companion, and service dog. Currently in the second phase of training (advanced obedience), Dillon and I have come a long way. He is a bit unpredictable, but I love that about him. Thank you PAWS Training Centers for helping me to get my dog trained. I couldn’t do it without you.