Testimonials

Testimonials 2017-03-21T13:23:30+00:00

Don

Marine

Barney has been with us for about 8 months now, and we love him so... Read More

Don

Marine

Barney has been with us for about 8 months now, and we love him so much. He has made a difference not only in my life, but my family’s as well. I have been happier and more confident to go out and do things on my own because of him. He does an awesome job sensing when I start to have anxiety by getting my attention by aggressively nudging my hand until I pet him. This snaps me out of my moment and calms me down when I pet him. For some reason, he senses when I have nightmares too. There were many times where I woke up from a nightmare from him licking me. This gives me a sense of security knowing that he’s there to remind me that I’m home and that he’s keeping me safe. I cannot imagine being without Barney. He loves life and making people happy, and that is exactly what I want to emulate. Hopefully his attitude rubs off on me too. He sometimes is a little too happy to be around people that he forgets that he’s a service dog, but it’s my job to make sure he knows when he is working. We recently took him on his first plane ride to Salt Lake City, and he did awesome. I knew he was very anxious getting on the plane so I was acting as his service person as well. He normally never turns down a treat, but during the whole flight, he just wanted to lay down. Overall, it was a good time and I learned that he loves the snow.

Gunjan

Navy

“Dear Next Step Service Dogs, I am so thrilled to have completed this journey with... Read More

Gunjan

Navy

“Dear Next Step Service Dogs, I am so thrilled to have completed this journey with you guys. Thank you for always knowing what and how to solve my issues related to my disability. Kaiser and I have grown so much through this process. We couldn’t have made it through without your support and professional skills. Even when I felt unwell and unable to train Kaiser, you always encouraged me to carry on to the best of my ability. I needed that little push to get through the training. Your professionalism and patience always impressed me and my husband. There were many times when Kaiser did not perform a command correctly during his training but Sally’s persistence and patience always prevailed and once he knew what was expected of him, training seemed like a dance J.

Given my disabilities, I have a long road ahead of me but I am so grateful to you and your team of trainers for making my life manageable with the help of my newly trained service dog! I finally am able to leave my house without needing my husband by my side. Kaiser makes sure I have right amount of space to make me feel comfortable in public. He has helped me stay in the moment when I encounter flashbacks and panic attacks. Something I didn’t achieve in the past three years. I would like to extend a special thanks to Sally for her amazing training skills and for making training my service dog a pleasant and positive experience. My husband and I would always leave every training session with a smile on our faces. Sally is not only a great trainer but also a great person. Eric and I feel blessed to have met her and have her as Kaiser’s trainer. I wish you all the best in the future and thank you again for all you guys do for our disabled veterans.” (May 2014)

Alex

Marine

“What I love about Next Step Service Dogs program is that they gave me a... Read More

Alex

Marine

“What I love about Next Step Service Dogs program is that they gave me a new chance at life, to get out and do things that I would never be able to do without my service dog. And what this program gave to me was a sense of security and I will be able to just go on with my life and be more social. And my Service dog Jack has helped my with my PTSD by keeping me calm in big crowds and in situation that I have to be in such as the DMV and other places such as school, and he keeps me in reality and keeps me focused on what I need to do. To the Next Step program and the wonderful staff, people like Sally Montrucchio and many others that have helped me transition, to all who gave to me and my life, I thank you for the new lease on life.” (May 2014)

Dina

Navy

“Dear Next Step Service Dogs, I cannot thank you enough for what you did for... Read More

Dina

Navy

“Dear Next Step Service Dogs, I cannot thank you enough for what you did for me. The program that my dog, GiGi, and I did with you was above any expectations we could have had. My quality of life has improved greatly since GiGi became certified as my service dog. Due to my PTSD, I struggled with getting out of the house and interacting with others. Now that GiGi is a certified service dog, I am able to go more places and feel more comfortable around others. There were two things I really loved about your training program. One was that in our training, you allowed us the time, if necessary, to talk about the problems we face. I was able to hear how other people had similar struggles and how other people benefitted from their dogs. It was inspirational at times and helped me fight my urge to stay home. Then, of course, there is the staff. The staff of Next Step Service Dogs’ staff was so wonderful to me. The patience and positive attitudes really helped me reach the finish line. If ever I needed help or advice about how to handle a situation, I could always get a hold of someone. I loved the energy of the group trainings, but also made great strides in the individual sessions. GiGi is helping me get my life back and Next Step Service Dogs made that possible. Thank you!” (May 2014)

Justin

Marine

After 12 years as a Marine, faced with PTSD and significant pain from back/neck injuries,... Read More

Justin

Marine

After 12 years as a Marine, faced with PTSD and significant pain from back/neck injuries, and a growing family, Justin was sold on the service dog idea when a buddy told him how much he enjoyed training a Next Step service dog, how it took his mind off the past, “took away the clouds, and brought out the sun”.

“When I first met Ginger (a hyperactive bezerk rescue dog initially), I knew it was going to be a lot of work. But I also saw that she was a very strong and confident dog. Her strength and confidence would help my strength and confidence, put me at ease in public, and allow me to have fun with my family. She now gives me peace of mind, knowing that I also have her help with my physical handicaps, especially as they increase. And her ability to create a protective barrier between me and people in public, just to be able to be in public, is huge. ” (July 2013)

Bolivar

Marine

As a result of three tours in Afghanistan and being blown up three times, Bolivar... Read More

Bolivar

Marine

As a result of three tours in Afghanistan and being blown up three times, Bolivar stopped caring about life, struggled with PTSD/TBI, and a rollercoaster of emotions. While in a Navy treatment program for PTSD, Bolivar was selected to be the first resident trainer for a yellow lab puppy, Albert, who lived with the clients in a barracks setting.

“Albert saved my life. I now had a purpose and a responsibility to train this dog. I learned that I could love again because Albert always returned my love unconditionally. Before Albert, I felt distant and cutoff from everyone. After I graduated from the program, I became a full-time Next Step service dog trainer for another veteran…who better to help another veteran, than a veteran.” (May 2013)

Seth

US Coast Guard Rescue

After serving in the US Coast Guard and later becoming a college professor, Seth realized... Read More

Seth

US Coast Guard Rescue

After serving in the US Coast Guard and later becoming a college professor, Seth realized that PTSD was still an ongoing concern for him, especially with his young family. He wanted to be connected to them, to be able to go into public places more easily, and to feel more secure.

“I renamed our service dog (a rescue dog) Shyla to “Shai” which means gift. She is a true gift in our lives, allows me to be more human and more present, to be the best father and husband that I am capable of being.” (May 2013)

John

Navy

A Navy fighter pilot with over 200 missions in Viet Nam, and later a long... Read More

John

Navy

A Navy fighter pilot with over 200 missions in Viet Nam, and later a long career as a nurse and then as director of nursing recruitment at Scripps, John was hit with ALS in 2010 and sought help with a service dog.

“Barney (our Next Step service dog) not only helps to balance me physically and emotionally, but makes me laugh every day, creates a sense of freedom despite the increasing severity of my condition, and provides a sense of security for my well-being. My wife can now go to the store or go for walk, knowing that Barney is looking after me.” (August 2013) For more of John’s story, click here.

Alfred

Marine

“My name is Alfred and I am currently serving in the Marine Corps stationed at... Read More

Alfred

Marine

“My name is Alfred and I am currently serving in the Marine Corps stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. It has been almost five years since I was sent off to boot camp and now I am looking to medically retire this year due to an event in the fall of 2010. I am a Military Police officer who was selected to become a Military Working Dog Handler for the Corps. After completing all of my initial schooling and basic courses, I was then stationed here at Pendleton where I was teamed up with my K9 dog, Grief, a Patrol Explosive Detection Dog trained to attack and find explosives.

After being together for two years in training, we were deployed to Afghanistan on June 3, 2010. On October 24, 2010, Grief and I were hit by an explosive device. I always tell everyone that being blown up and sustaining multiple serious injuries is easy. But losing not only your K9 companion, but also your best four-legged buddy is the hardest thing that I had to endure. Grief was killed in action that day. As a K9 handler, the most important thing I learned that cannot be taught is the bond that forms between a dog and its handler. In most cases it’s something you cannot explain. My dog, Grief, made me want to get involved with service dogs.

After I checked into Wounded Warrior Battalion West in the winter of 2012, I started volunteer work with a local service dog organization and Sally Montrucchio. I wanted to give back as much as I possibly could. I trained a 14-month German Shepard Lab mix and assisted in training her with his new her new handler, a Marine with PTSD. I saw their transformation. The Marine went from never handling a dog to understanding that second language I told him about. They understood each other and both knew the role they needed to play. She knew that she was working for him and he knew that with her there beside him, he was safer.

They were not the only transformation that took place. What I learned was that there are those who cannot help the way they feel and need that extra push and aid when in need. Sure, the doctors can prescribe medications and therapists can talk, but what they cannot do is be there for someone at all times when that person needs someone. None of these things can replace the strength and power that the dog provides through unconditional love. This is what I realized these veterans needed and I can give them that. I believe that with an individual who needs a service dog and has the opportunity to train with it, a healing transformation happens. I am confident that a program such as Next Step Service Dogs would have much success in providing remarkable physical and psychological aid to wounded warriors.” (Sept 2012)