A Pets For Vets Match Story

Maryann and Wookiee

“My name is MaryAnn Dyer. I am a 100% disabled Army Veteran with a combat military occupational skill (MOS) in intelligence. My clearance is a TSBICI. I worked in war rooms on the front line and around the world. I joined 07JUL83 and retired medically 17DEC98.

I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Panic Attacks, Nerve damage to my entire body and a whole lot of anger that is now being released in therapy.

I love the Army and I love my Country. I never thought I would need the help of a dog to get me through this anger of healing. However, I was wrong.

I would like to tell you about my dog. I was expecting a medium size (35 pound) dog. This way I would feel protected if approached "suspiciously" by someone. Or in my case, anyone.

She ended up being a "boot kicker" dog. Yes, I used to call them that, or "yappers." I hated them. I only liked big dogs growing up. But I was willing to take a chance on the experience of two people: Didi and Mary-Jo. Mary-Jo has been an animal trainer for over 20 years and never before has she felt that a dog belonged to a person. Who am I to argue with that? I got a 12 lb. Shih Tzu mutt with an under bite. Her name was Cookie, but she looks and squawks like a baby Wookiee from Star Wars. So I changed her name to Wookiee.

Since I am Army, I was reflecting back on her life before Pets for Vets and since she came to me. She was badly matted and in need of a shave. I call it basic training, where poor PVT Wookiee was groomed with nails trimmed and sent for obedience. That would be her entry program into Pets for Vets. I had to share an open bay with 60 women and she went to live with friends. I was taught how to do my commands just as she was; we are both loud in sounding off! I've been caged and locked in war rooms for hours. Before pets for Vets she was locked in a cage. Wookiee has been a mother and I have a son.

Just looking into Wookiee's eyes and playing with her each day gives me great delight! Taking her for small walks gives me responsibility for someone else on days that I'm depressed and a reason to get up and function. Wookiee has a small nasal passage and has hyperventilated twice. I have had to talk her down using my Panic Attack breathing techniques. You see, we are a perfect match.

She sleeps on my bed and is learning, from my cat, how to SAFELY wake me from night terrors. Wookiee goes to the VA with me daily and lies on a bed at my feet. All my therapists and classmates welcome her.

I love her dearly and can't imagine my life without her. If she was any larger, my central nervous system would not be able to lift her up. The screening system works! Pets for Vets does an in depth screening of each veteran, to match the personality of each person with the correct dog. It creates a stronger bonding situation between the soldier and his/her dog, thus creating more success stories of love, trust and companionship.

I am so grateful for Pets for Vets ROAR, and all their donors for helping me get Wookiee and the support and care you have put into her training and medical care.

Again, thank you,

MaryAnn Dyer”

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