FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - A local non-profit is looking for veterans or first responders to gift a service dog. Normally these dogs can cost anywhere between $15,000 to $55,000, but they will be completely free for those in need. Although there is one small catch. You have to complete the training with the dog.
Old Glory Service Dogs 4 Veterans is training two 7-month-old chocolate labs named Juliet and Glory. The pair is going through their training but are in need of their future companion to help them finish.
"The commitment that we ask that person, that first responder or veteran is you come here once a week and train with us so that you and the dog bond together," said CEO and President of Old Glory Lauren Driscoll.
At Old Glory Service Dogs, they give dogs at risk of being put down a new life as a working dog. The local non-profit hopes to match them with a first responder or veteran in need for free.
"There’s a lot of people that come back from the military and can’t get out of the house or don’t have any ambition. I want to give them a dog that changes everything," said Driscoll.
A service dog is not a pet. The trainers describe the dogs as a tool that requires hours of training to master. Training could last up to two years to complete.
"We’re training dogs to save a life and that’s a big step and a big request, but that’s our bar," said Bruce Miller.
In many ways, Miller’s service dog Jób has saved his life too.
"This gives you the confidence inside," said Miller "He knows me. Knows when I get upset. He knows when I’m not feeling good and he lets me know that."
Miller first came to Old Glory seven years ago for a dog but stayed on as a trainer. For him, seeing that indescribable moment when the two become one is priceless.
"It’s like your son or your daughter when they graduate from school go to college or get married. There goes my dog, my veteran. It’s almost a tearjerker because they’re leaving, but they are leaving a better person," said Miller.
If you’re a veteran who is in search of a dog like one of these, or maybe you know someone who is you can apply for one of the dogs here. You can also reach out to Old Glory for more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.