I pray all is well. Today I have decided to talk about something I have been trying to avoid for sometime now. It seems the time is now right to get these thoughts in place. I have had this plan to write a book about Moose who was my first and only service dog that completely changed my life. Now it seems it’s a book about the three most important figures in my life. Jesus, Heather and Moose are the ones with the most impact. I woke up this morning and God has put this on my heart. I have decided to share this with you all in steps of course, and maybe this will lead to my book.
November 14, 2014 seems like forever ago now considering the amount of changes that have occurred in the last seven years. This was like no other day my anxiety was up for starters creating some panic. I was on my way to look for another candidate to be my service dog. Prior to this day I was wrapped in research reading different ideas on how to properly train a service dog on your own. I had also been in deep thought on how to train a dog that would actually fit my specific needs. I was also worried that this dog would once again not be the one I was looking for. Prior to this day I had also been turned down by other service dog organizations due to some of their silly rules.
Moose was located in Fort Hood, TX at that time we lived two hours from the base. Not having tons of money at that time the travel alone was a gamble. Those entire two hours felt like an eternity and every second that tick by created more anxiety. The moment we pulled up to the address my life was about to change but for the better. Walking through the door listening to the owner Allison saying he’s not too fond of strangers. I remember thinking to myself. I wouldn't be too fond of me either. When I walked out into the backyard Moose took off around the corner, considering the owner's words; I waited for him to leave the corner. I wasn’t afraid at all, I was only trying to be patient. There were obvious signs I was looking for so I would hopefully make the right decision either way. Moose, finally came over to me and put his head in my lap. I decided to lay down on the grass to see if the dog would follow, at this point I was looking for a connection. The moment Moose laid down with me and then followed me around the yard, I knew this he was the one.
Allison was shocked and said she had never seen anything like that before. To be sure I was right I spent more time with Moose to make sure no stone was left uncovered. Moose seemed to fit instantly, I had no issues putting on his leash. The owner was upset because the entire time they had them they could never walk him with a leash. It’s clear we all have a calling even animals, Moose’s calling was saving a drowning veteran like me. Little did I know Moose would help create a way to help others like myself, but no calling comes without issues.
Training started that moment neither Moose or I ever looked back in the rear view mirror. For us the next 3 ½ years would be a bond and friendship like you couldn’t even imagine. There is always a moment in anyone's life where they decide to change their course. I was that guy struggling with Post traumatic stress disorder, It’s hard for veterans to talk about these things. Imagine feeling different all the time knowing your new worldview differs from others. PTSD has nothing to do with a veteran unable to let go of the war, but it’s the war unwilling to let go of the veteran.
Moose was a natural heck he made me look better than I probably was. Moose also had the ability to sense if people were friend or foe. Moose used to nudge the inside of my leg either the left or right side. I was confused at first so I ended up reaching out to a K9 law enforcement handler. He told me to pay attention to what side and if there were other individuals approaching from the left or right. Once I figured out what Moose was telling, I knew I had a special dog. I knew I had to step up my game and work just as hard as Moose was. Moose’s ability shocked everyone and
even other trainers, and he knew when the kids were missing. One day Heather was in the store. Mackenzie decided to take off on her own immediately Moose went nuts. I had no idea what his problem was until we noticed Mackenzie was missing. Moose started nudging me and so I decided to follow him and he led us to Mackenzie two aisles over.
Training at times would either open up doors or close them. Sometimes closed minded people closed doors on us that’s because of their lack of knowledge; on service dogs. I also had issues with kids, and what I mean by issues was anxiety. In Iraq everything can kill you including small kids. In Iraq I had either seen for myself or heard the stories of guys being blown up by small kids. This hindered my training at times, because Moose would feed off my emotions. When kids approached me it didn’t matter from what side, Moose would bark at them. Moose’s bark was more like warning altering those that we were working and please do not disturb us. Moose never needed a patch that said please do not pet, because he was naturally his own advocate. The training we conducted together lasted hours a day learning each other’s every thought.
Moose ended up replacing what was missing and what was missing was having a battle buddy. Moose knew all my daily struggles whether it was religious, personal or political he was always the voice that listened, no judgement ever came. Imagine having a four legged friend who understood your worldviews, and shared those same views. For me Moose was another set of eyes for what I didn’t see coming. We had a connection that sometimes made me wonder if he was put in my life for a reason. Sometimes we all take for granted the blessings we are given; it's only our nature to ignore the obvious.
The military during my time in service did a poor job at preparing us for civilian life. I was medically retired and to be clear there is still a bad taste in my mouth for the US Army. In August of 2006 I ended up at Fort Lee, VA that was only eight months since I had been home from Iraq. As soon as I got to Fort Lee in process, I heard rumors of them deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. They were forming task forces to go, all I remember is saying is great going back over yeah! It’s clear to this day that God’s plan for me wasn’t to go back overseas. Little did I know that being stationed at Fort Lee had a deeper meaning.
Heather and I met in the fall of 2006, and she was new to the Army. She had just completed AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and somehow got stuck at the same place as her AIT. When I first met my wife it was clear I wasn’t her favorite person right off the back. When Heather arrived in our squad for the first time, I was not having the best day. I was left in charge, because our other two NCO’s had some type of training. Looking back now it’s clear the dynamics of the military can be interesting. Heather introduced herself saying “hi, I’m private Pyatt”? My response was “great go to the end of the formation.” Looking back there was definitely a better way I could have responded. For me I knew the military was changing and not for the good. My responses were usually jerkish and sarcastic but out of frustration knowing the army was changing. I also wasn’t used to working with females due to my prior service in combat arms. Eventually I took Heather under my wing because she was something special, and I felt she would have made a great leader.
Heather’s work ethic was extraordinary; she was a prime example of selfless service. She loved everyone and she was definitely a people pleaser but in a good way. Heather even to this day is the type of person who goes out of her way to help anyone who needs help. Sometimes behind every good man is a better woman, and this is definitely Heather. This story would not be possible if she wasn't included in it.
I will stop here for now so I can gather my thoughts to continue. I hope you all enjoy my story and let’s all pray maybe it becomes a book. Thank you all again for the love and the support please share me out. I welcome all feedback on my book.
Jared W. Campbell
US Army Retired
Verse Of The Day:
Proverbs 2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: (KJV)