Gibbs: A Natural Therapy Dog

Honorary Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, was a rescue dog from the NCIS agents at Cherry Point Marine Corps Base in North Carolina. He had been a part of a sting in another state and was brought back to North Carolina in hopes of finding a home to adopt him. He was skinny, full of flees, scared and just a mess the day I met him but I looked into his eyes and knew right away he had been blessed by God to do something more than just be a pet. Gibbs is a Llewellyn English Setter and is bred to hunt quail and pheasant. I did train Gibbs to hunt (or shall I say he trained me) and he loves to be in the woods. But even though we would go hunting there was always something very different about Gibbs and his reaction to people. At the time I did not know exactly what it was.

Then one day in early 2013 both Gibbs and I suffered a severe traumatic betrayal. The abuse was so severe that it triggered panic attacks and severe PTSD symptoms. I did not understand what was happening to me. But Gibbs did. I had never had these symptoms ever in my life before and for the past year I am symptom free. But Gibbs understood and what he did was both overwhelming and miraculous at the same time.

Gibbs would work his miracles on me in order to bring me through the episodes. He could be in one room and me in another and he would sense it coming on. He would be with me in a flash. I would wake up from a nightmare in the night to find him laying across me. I was ashamed of these symptoms so I didn’t tell anyone that they were happening. It was months before I was able to see my doctor. My doctor recognized it right away and of course prescribed medication and counseling. I refused the medication and was determined to find another way. With Gibbs by my side we began a walking/jogging/praying program. The two of us benefited greatly from our exercise program. On these walks I decided that I could not keep this blessing to myself. Gibbs should help others who had these symptoms. Gibbs’ “heeling paws” was a gift from God and others should have an opportunity to meet him and feel his love. PAWS Training Centers was recommended and the rest is history.

Gibbs was accepted into the Wounded Warrior Battalion East as a therapy dog to work in Wounded Warriors groups who suffer from various symptoms. It’s been almost two years working with Wounded Warriors and he never ceases to amaze me how they will open up to Gibbs and tell him how they are feeling. Gibbs is invited to many events and is truly a loved by all he meets. He is a real star At WWBN East not only for the Wounded Warriors but for the staff as well. Everyone loves Gibbs. I’m so proud of him.

Gibbs and I train all the time in different public places who allow him to come. He will always pick out a complete stranger and want to spend time with that person based on his reactions and what he does I know there is something that the person needs. When I briefly tell the story, the person usually drops to their knees to hug and talk to Gibbs. He never fails. They are always grateful and thank him for the love he shows them.

Thank you to Gibbs’ lead trainer Rob and also to Morgan who was there in the beginning for Gibbs too. Rob and Morgan were awesome, understanding and persistent but most of all patient and reassuring. Without their knowledge and training experience Gibbs’ gifts would have never been fully developed or been able to help so many wonderful people. I am truly grateful for what PAWS Training Centers did for us both.