I’m Neil and I joined the United States Marine Corps while I was in High School. I was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Corporal in 2003. When I left the Marines I was given 10% disability. I spent the next 10 years trying to make myself believe I was ok.  Too prideful to seek help.  I didn’t feel right getting reevaluated again until I moved to Houston and my retired military uncles encouraged me to at least check in with the VA to get reestablished. After months of appointments they now qualified me for 100% disability. 

During that time, I had adopted my Belgian Malinois mix, Auggy, when he was about 6 months old from a shelter.  He was to be my companion but I also had the idea to train him for service dog work.  I was a bit unsure how he would be at the qualification testing and that caused even more anxiety and stress on me.  After researching local trainers and programs I chose Give Us Paws because their scientific approach was actually familiar to me as something I had read and seen documentaries on.  Our first visit was with Paul.  He pointed out the things I was worried would disqualify Auggy but said they were all very easily fixed with training and passed us to the next phase.  We were put on the waiting list.  After a few months we got the call that it was our turn to start training!

The first training day was full of encouragement and patience from Nancy as was each training day after and all the texts in between. It’s so nice to have someone fully invested in making this happen, taking time out of her day to check in on us and answer any questions as they come up.  We look forward to continuing our training with Nancy and all the amazing things that Auggy will be able to do.  He just loves the training and is eager to learn more and more.