Nicolas, the Adopted Service Dog

Published for Friends of DAS + Track15

Living with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) means that flashbacks and sleep insomnia are a routine reality for Tim, military veteran. After serving in both the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, Tim has contended with the effects of trauma in his daily life, feeling overwhelmed even to go outside or enter a crowd.

At the same time, Nicolas (4-year-old black lab) has been residing at Dallas Animal Services while his service dog trainer has been working with disabled veterans. The three met on a fateful day in October, when Tim decided to pursue adopting an emotional support service dog to manage his PTSD.

A common myth about rescue dogs is they are poorly behaved and incapable of being trained. As the folks at Dallas Animal Services (DAS) will tell you, this is simply not true. When Tim shared that he wanted to adopt his service dog rather than purchase from a breeder, the trainer promptly endorsed the decision and met Tim at DAS to consider the available pups and select a good fit. Upon introduction, Tim knew Nicolas was his dog.

Just a few weeks after adoption and training have begun, Tim and Nicolas are the best of companions. When Tim experienced several PTSD episodes, Nicolas responded like a champion, jumping on Tim’s lap or licking his hand to comfort him. Eventually, Nicolas will learn to recognize episodes before they happen based on Tim’s body signals and cues. “A service dog changes lives,” explains the trainer. “It is a lifetime bond unlike any other.”