Eighteen years after serving in Operation Urgent Fury in Granada, Specialist Corey Weber was still plagued by the ill effects of PTSD. Corey was having difficulty sleeping, experiencing nightmares and flashbacks, and was severely depressed. He felt vulnerable and unable to relax, which left him battling to stay connected to people around him as well as his family. All of which had a negative impact on his mood.
This all changed the day his social worker at the VA suggested a companion dog might help. Corey contacted Pets for Vets, describing his perfect companion as one that would provide unconditional love, that would lie on his lap, be a little playful and love to have belly rubs. Through our meetings with Corey, it became apparent that he needed a companion for friendship to alleviate loneliness, encourage him not to isolate and be a comforting presence to alleviate his nightmares and flashbacks, as well as provide a reason to stay active to help with his diabetes. Corey said that all he wanted to be able to do with his new companion would be to pet, brush, bathe, take for walks, and dote on her regularly.
A tiny, quirky, terrier with sparkling, soft, brown eyes was selected from the SPCA LA Long Beach, and trained specifically for Corey. Corey named her Gigi. She came to the home of Founder, Clarissa Black, to begin her training program. She excelled at the behaviors she needed to learn and showed a fondness for sitting on ones lap for hours while being stroked or brushed.
Gigi met Corey in August of 2012 and it was love at first sight. Sitting in Corey’s lap, Gigi would gently lean in and give him soft kisses while they gazed into each other’s eyes. As Corey describes it, “at that moment, the two of us bonded like you would never believe.”
Corey expressed how perfect Gigi was for him and that they seemed to understand each other from that first day. “I adopted Gigi and she adopted me, all I can say is who saved who?” Corey and Gigi spent all of their time together: she encouraged him to become active again. Because her personality was so infectious, Corey found himself interacting more and more with others around him. Gigi also helped to ease his depression; one look into her sparkling, soft brown eyes would make everything melt away for Corey. Later her name evolved to Princess Gigi, as Corey doted on her every day.
Corey sent a letter stating:
“I wish to thank Clarissa Black and her team for giving me a new aspect on life! Getting Gigi has made me not isolate, gave me a true friend and has made me happier than ever. Pets for Vets is a wonderful organization for vets, old and new! It helps in so many ways that people don’t realize. There are wounds that are seen and unseen. These wounds could be new and old and not seen for many years.
I am just realizing my wounds after 18 years and they have been swallowing me up. Now having Gigi has given me an unconditional love. She follows me everywhere and wants to play, walk, and sleep with me. It already has made an impact on my life just after four days.
Thank you Clarissa for everything you have done and are doing for me! There are few words that can describe my appreciation!
Update: Corey Weber passed away June 12, 2015 from complications of Type One Diabetes. Gigi is now living with Corey’s nephew, K.C. (who is also a Vet) and his wife, Christie.
Watch their story below.