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A Profound Change In My Life

Otis and Millie.jpeg

Otis is 63 years old this year, and has had Millie, a Golden Retriever, for four years.

He grew up in Vallejo, California and was in the Naval ROTC in high school. When he graduated in 1977, he decided to join the Army, where he served for two years, both as a construction engineer and as a marksman on the rifle team.

While he was in the service, he went through a few extremely difficult experiences and began to suffer from anxiety and depression. The Army sent him to a psychiatrist, but his condition was not properly diagnosed before he left the military.

“When I got out, I bounced around a lot, and my marriage broke up. I had problems focusing, and I
still have a very short attention span.”

Otis’s sister reached out and asked him to move closer to her in Louisiana so he could start his life over again. After relocating, he began to see doctors in Shreveport who pinpointed what was bothering him. Prior to that, he knew how badly he was suffering but he did not know why.

A year after he arrived in Louisiana, he began to put down roots. He got married for the second time, and together, he and his wife bought a home. Then he met Kelly from American Warrior Initiative, who suggested that he might benefit from having a service dog to help him cope with his anxiety and depression.

Otis says that having Millie has changed him in so many ways. It used to take time for him to open up and talk to people, and even more time to express his emotions.

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“Sure, I still have my guard up, but Millie is right there for me. She’s just a blessing to have in my family. I never experienced anything like this before. Having my service dog has caused a profound change in my life.”

Otis has started working again part-time in the grocery business, enjoying the new confidence that Millie brings him.

“Custom Canines flew me and my wife to their headquarters in Wisconsin, where we got to meet Millie, a Golden Retriever. We were there for a week while they trained us together. It was like a miracle. I was overwhelmed with the help I received from the people at Custom Canines. And Millie was so receptive. She helps me cope, and she’s always there when I’m feeling anxious.”


Custom Canines Service Dog Academy has trained canine partners for US military veterans and First Responders for over 10 years, enabling these men and women to feel safer, to escape isolation, and to lead more independent lives.

We need your continued support to continue our support for them! Any gift, however small or large, is deeply appreciated by our clients, by our volunteers, and by our organization. Please will you click the DONATE button below and make that end of year gift today?


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