A week before Thanksgiving in 2016, Michael McIntosh connected with Jar Jar, a union bringing joy to them both. Michael is a veteran, a Marine who has struggled with PTSD, and Jar Jar is a distinctive black and white rescue dog (with impressively long ears) who was about to be euthanized.
Michael had been living alone. He liked being in the Marines, as they provided him discipline, growth, and, most important, camaraderie. He served in Guam and the Philippines and was stunned by the poverty and hardship he saw there. Moving from a successful career to coping with the challenges of PTSD, Michael found himself looking for a companion.
Now he has someone who listens to him, gets him out of the apartment, and steadies him when uncertainties or noises set in. Jar Jar is exuberant about meeting new people, going out, and watching squirrels through the window. As Michael relates these things, Jar Jar drums his tale in excitement.
Having Jar Jar reminds Michael of the best way to live, a simple life of being pleased with what they have. “He makes me grateful,” Michael says, stroking the sleek head perched on his thigh. Working with his counselor, he was careful about getting another dog after his 12 year old dog Obi Won passed. This was a loss that devastated Michael. He contacted Pets for Vets and found that it was more than just getting a dog. The group spends time with a veteran, making sure the dog / veteran match is just right. Michael says Jar Jar was carefully trained by Lou Goaziou, so the fit works well.
Although Jar Jar might not be able to say so, he appears to savor his new life. His adventures include hiding things in the house, fetching toys, letting his ears fly out the car’s window, and settling into bed, legs up in the air, when the day is over. Michael plans to take his new best friend camping this summer, trekking their joyous friendship through the woods near Cascade.
This is a tale of Thanks-giving. “We have both been blessed,” says Michael. Jar Jar’s tail seems to agree.