Chihuahua Helps Army Veteran Cope with PTSD

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by Bethany Meissner

Adopting a pet from a shelter always saves at least one life. For Army veteran Crystal, adopting a senior dog named Dayzee saved both the dog’s life and her own! According to Pets for Patriots’ The Wet Nose Blog, Crystal served in the Army as a food service specialist all around the world. After separating from the Army, Crystal earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts and traveled across the United States. Unfortunately, not everything was smooth sailing for Crystal as a private citizen. As she told Pets for Patriots, “I was dealing with PTSD and I needed something routine. I needed something to take care of, and I needed to be responsible.”

Crystal started looking for that something and came across Pets for Patriots, a charity that helps bring veterans and shelter animals together to save both people and pets. Their mission, according to their website, is to “consistently give the gifts of fidelity, joy, and companionship to both veteran and pet through companion animal adoption.” Crystal liked reading about the charity’s successful past matches. She also appreciated that Pets for Patriots would help her adopt while allowing her a great deal of choice. She told Pets for Patriots, “I wasn’t limited to one particular shelter. I was able to choose what animal I wanted.”

Soon Crystal found Dayzee, a senior Chihuahua, at the Virginia Beach SPCA. The first time that they met, Dayzee leaped into Crystal’s lap – making the choice mutually obvious. The two quickly bonded. Crystal worked with Dayzee on the small dog’s aggression and barking. Crystal empathizes with Dayzee, telling Pets for Patriots, that “she’s got issues, and we have issues.”

Caring for Dayzee helped Crystal to focus beyond her own PTSD. However, after she’d had Dayzee about a year, Cyrstal needed to admit herself to an in-patient treatment program for her PTSD. The program wouldn’t allow Crystal to bring Dayzee with her.

Crystal didn’t want to lose her beloved dog, so she asked Pets for Patriots if they could help. Pets for Patriots then was able to work with one of their partners, Dogs on Deployment, to arrange an emergency foster for Dayzee. Crystal entered treatment with a photo of Dayzee and the knowledge that her little dog was with good people. In an emotional reunion video she shot with Pets for Patriots, Crystal told the foster family that knowledge “was really comforting.”

Crystal shared that during treatment, “when I was feeling down, I just kept going back to her picture and it picked me up.” Crystal clarified that Dayzee has “very much been emotional support for me.”

After treatment, when they were reunited, Dayzee came running to Crystal who scooped the pup up in her arms. As Dayzee covered Crystal with happy kisses, Crystal could not keep the joy out of her voice as she crooned to her dog, telling her hello and that she had missed her. “Oh she remembers me!” Crystal cried.

Crystal later told Pets for Patriots that she wasn’t sure whether she or Dayzee had more fun that day. The two have been through thick and thin and Crystal is confident that they’ll last. As she told Pets for Patriots, “We look out for each other.” That’s all anyone can ask from a best friend.

Photo Credit: Pets for Patriots

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