The Dog Who Sees Inside a Veteran’s Soul
After Devin Rodriguez was discharged from the Marine Corps in 2012, he needed a companion to ease his tensions and the stress caused by the transition from life as a Marine to civilian life.
“Cali gave me that and so much more,” he says, adding that the Golden Retriever’s role in his life goes beyond simple companionship.
“Finding a best friend with the loyalty of a dog is one of the most amazing experiences that a human can be a part of,” Devin says. “A dog can see inside your soul, and they can steal your heart in just a few slobbery kisses. We all know that, but for a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS), being paired with a canine companion can truly be a lifesaver.”
Cali and Devin are participating in their second year of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Devin first learned about the study from Hilda Wood, a field trial and hunt test competitor from southern Florida, and he knew he had to be a part of it. He is intrigued by the possibility of unlocking genetic information that could improve the health of the breed that has become so important to him and to others who use Golden Retrievers as assistance dogs.
Devin and Cali have recently earned their first AKC Master Hunter pass. Once this southern season is over, Devin reports, they will be moving back to their obedience training. Because of the positive influence Cali’s presence has had on his well-being, Devin has made it his mission to “…educate as many people as possible of the benefits of animal-assisted therapy and the joy it can bring to people’s lives.” He ultimately hopes to partner with others to raise awareness about how much animals can benefit the human spirit.
To see more pictures of Cali, and her friends, or to contact Devin about Cali Cares, visit www.facebook.com/CaliCaresTampa.
This Memorial Day the entire Morris Animal Foundation staff would like to thank veterans past, present and future, and their families, for their service and sacrifices.
To learn more about Morris Animal Foundation and our other programs please visit morrisanimalfoundation.org.