Many know the value a dog can bring to someone’s life, but the contribution a service dog makes is priceless. Retired Marine Cpl. Nathan Peck came home from Iraq in 2009 after 2 serious injuries left him with lower back injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. He has been trying to get a service dog from various groups but until he became aware of 4 Paws 4 Patriots he had no success. This week Peck was paired with Cali, a 2 year old golden retriever who has been trained for PTSD and mobility.
Peck is very grateful to have been united with Cali, and his difficult life has already begun to improve thanks to her. Cali is able to retrieve his cane if he drops it, and is trained to act as a buffer for Peck in crowds so that people don’t get too close, and of course she provides him with unconditional love. “These two years, I’ve been in a very dark place,” Peck said. “Working with Cali, she calms me down, helps me out. She’s like my best friend, like my kid. Most importantly, she knows how to calm me down in those dark moments. Without Tim’s organization, I don’t know where I’d be today.”
The Tim he is referring to is Tim LeBlanc of Menifee, who formed the charity two years ago with fellow Menifee resident Greg Fletcher and John Banks of Temecula. LeBlanc and Banks are both military veterans and LeBlanc has been training dogs for over 30 years. The trio saw a need to help provide dogs to the thousands of disabled veterans returning from duty. “These guys don’t get as much help as they should,” Fletcher said. “We want to take the talents we have so we can give them a better life.”
One of the wonderful things about the 4 Paws 4 Patriots program is that many of the dogs come from rescues and shelters and are trained to help give veterans a better life. Those dogs are also getting a much better life, in a loving home, so everybody wins. But it comes with a cost; the training can take 6 months to 2 years and cost up to $20,000. The charity relies completely on donations and tries never to turn anyone away who needs a dog. “It doesn’t matter what disability it is; if they need help, we’ll help them,” LeBlanc told the dozen people who gathered for the ceremony at which Peck was given Cali. “These guys deserve everything I can do to help them — everything anyone can do to help them.” For more information about 4 Paws 4 Patriots go to www.4paws4patriots.org.