Meribeth Russell sited a statistic about Freedom Dogs of which she is most proud.
“Nothing is guaranteed, and there are always people you wish you could’ve done a little more for. They’re like family and we follow them for life. But I can tell you we’re 100 percent in one regard- not one of our participants has committed suicide.”
I found this statistic particularly impressive, considering the Pentagon has called military suicide an “epidemic,” with active-duty troops committing suicide at a rate of one per day.
Russell told me Carlos threw himself heart and soul into Freedom Dogs, and she considered him one of her star students. And later, one of her star trainers.
Carlos, who served in the Marines as a leader, teaching fellow Leathernecks the tools they’d need to survive in the war zone, decided to become a full-time trainer at Freedom Dogs, teaching Marines with PTSD how to survive their war wounds.
“He has blossomed,” Russell said. “Carlos actually enjoyed working with the fellow Marines so much, that he took it upon himself to convince the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy dog training school to not only accept him as a student, but to provide him with a scholarship.”
So even though Carlos was technically no longer a Marine, he was still serving his comrades in a different way. As a licensed dog trainer, he could've made a good living training the dogs of wealthy families. Instead, he chose to volunteer his time to Freedom Dogs, training PTSD-scarred Marines how to believe in themselves again.
Later today, "Even the Devil Can't Fool a Dog" - Part 10
(Read the previous installment of “Even the Devil Can’t Fool a Dog” by clicking here.)