“We’ve been on airplanes, we’ve been in hospitals, we go to every restaurant you could think of. It’s been absolutely a lifesaver.”
Like so many veterans Anthony lives with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Two tours in Iraq as a member of the Marine Corps took a toll.
Lauren Rohrbaugh stuck by his side while he fought for freedom but the couple sacrificed so much of their own when he came home.
“Before Creek I was afraid to leave the house,” Lauren said “I didn’t think he would eat he might not get up he wouldn’t get dressed. He probably wouldn’t take his meds he would probably just lay on the couch and have nightmares all day.”
Those nightmares made everyday life a struggle, little things like going out to dinner became a task.
“Before I had Creek I weighed 120 pounds I wouldn’t leave the house I wouldn’t eat,” said Anthony. “I wouldn’t do pretty much anything other than just sit at home and waste away.”
Medication wasn't working so they considered getting a service dog.
They found paws4people Foundation and the paws4vets program.
Their pups start training at 3 days old, learning how to navigate the world for their people that will someday need them.
They go through paws4prisoners where they learn over 100 commands and connect with prisoners.
From there the dog picks their human.
“The first couple dogs that came up to me they walked up to me they kinda checked me out and then they just immediately walked away,” said Anthony.“Creek just sat down rolled over and showed me his belly. He wanted to be rubbed and played with and then didn’t want to leave.”
A man who felt so separated from everyone and everything had something to look forward to.
“After a training they told me okay next month you’ll be taking your dog home get ready. We bought the dog crate, had dog food waiting, dog bed we purchased all that stuff way beforehand. When they told me could come home with me it was probably one of the happiest days in a long time.”
Sponsors like RBC Wealth Management made the connection financially possible.
paws4vets trains the veterans how to use their companions to distress and deal with their anger.
Anthony said a common misconception is that veterans aren't approachable.
“You don’t have to avoid them and always ask to pet a service dog that’s one big thing. I just want and the organization wants to get more service dogs to not just veterans but also other people that are in need. They are a lifesaver they're better than any other medication out there.”
The nightmares are more manageable.
With a reservation for three, Anthony and Lauren can go out to dinner again.
“Creek will kind of distract him and alert him that hey buddy you’re getting anxious,” Lauren said. “Then he’s got to focus on his dog instead of focusing on whatever he was anxious about. Anthony has bad knees and balance so Creek will help him up the stairs. If Anthony almost falls Creek will sometime get behind his legs so he doesn’t fall.”
Creek holds him up when things get too heavy.
“Anxiety goes way down, I was even nervous being around my own family. Now I can take him and everyone gives him love, and I know if he’s okay with them then I’m going to be okay.”
With Creek by his side, Anthony hopes to help veterans going through some of the same things he is.