Raven was only 3 months old and deemed “aggressive” so she was scheduled to be euthanized in Jacksonville 4 months ago. Fortunately for Raven, Natalie Tayman, the founder and executive director of Willow’s Second Chances, an animal rescue in Jacksonville came to her rescue with only hours to spare.
Tayman met Raven and administered a temperament test which she passed easily and then took her to a foster home that same day where something incredible happened. “While at the foster home she not only detected their child having a seizure but she also detected the father having a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder episode,” said Tayman who has been working with disabled people for 16 years and has a degree in animal obedience and training. “That’s when we knew she was special.”
Recognizing her abilities, Tayman decided immediately to train Raven to be a therapy dog who will work with Katie Bales, a local Marine who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “I know that Raven will do whatever (Katie) needs her to do,” Tayman said. “(Raven) will assist Katie in her daily life and help her do things she can’t do herself. (Raven) will prove to be very valuable to Katie and can potentially save her life.”
Now 7 months old the Labrador and shepherd mix is still a little fearful in crowds which is normal for shelter dogs, but she has a lot more training to complete which includes learning how to respond to Bales and how to guide her handler through crowds. Bales is thrilled to be getting assistance, “It meant the world to me getting that phone call from Natalie saying she found me a dog,” she said. “It means I get a friend for life, someone to help me on my difficult days.”
“Because of her I’ll get my life back,” says Bales. And because of Tayman, Raven gets to live a long and happy life as well.