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Traveling Together in Peace

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Tami remembers clearly the moment that was her turning point. “I was sitting in my car by myself, and I began to melt down, crying uncontrollably. I was totally isolated.”

Years of pain had led up to this moment. She entered the US Navy at the age of 21, and her first duty assignment was as a seaman, doing small boat maintenance and security watches, all of it hard, physical, outdoor work. Tami was never a person to shy away from fear or danger.

In 1992 she worked on a destroyer and deployed to Japan, Guam, and Hong Kong. After 2 years of active duty and 6 years in the Naval Reserve, Tami had experienced much the Navy had to offer, and as a woman in a male-dominated culture, this included living in an environment of sexual harassment, of inappropriate and invasive touching by men, and of rape. The male seamen filmed pornography, they stroked her body, uninvited, while they stood in public places, and no senior officer would put a stop to it.

Out of the Navy, Tami went to college, graduated, and began work, unaware that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress. She developed asthma from the chemicals she worked with onboard ship. She became hyper-vigilant in social situations and couldn’t function when people walked up behind her. She was jumpy and avoided relationships of all kinds; she had insomnia, panic attacks, and suffered from depression, choosing to self-medicate with alcohol rather than admit that she had reached a breaking point.

That day in the car when she began to sob uncontrollably was the day Tami decided to find help. She applied to Custom Canines and waited a full year before we found Arlo for her. They’ve been together five years now, and her life has changed from the unconditional love and safety he provides.

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Tami went to graduate school and received her Master of Social Work degree. She now works with hospice patients and residents in sub-acute homes, as well as doing bereavement counseling and 12-step counseling.

“Words aren’t enough to describe the peace, freedom, and joy that Arlo brings me every single day. I want to tell my story so others know that help is out there. You just have to reach out for it.”

“He gives me more than I ever realized I needed. I don’t have as many anxious thoughts, and I sleep better. I don’t check my house for danger or intruders anymore when I come home. I’m not as jumpy about being around people.”


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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