Through specialized training, service dogs are capable of amazing things. Most importantly, the stability they add to their handlers’ lives is virtually miraculous.
The story of Navy Veteran Jason Howe and his service dog Sobee exemplifies this miracle. Years ago, Howe enjoyed many aspects of being in the military. It allowed him to see and experience new things, and it gave him “a purpose in life, structure.”
It was after he left the Navy in 2007 that Howe’s life started to take a downward turn. Missing that structure, he went through a “dark period.” Howe explained:
“I started taking a bunch of prescription pills from the V.A., and I decided to turn to drugs to cope,”
Howe’s addiction ended up taking a huge toll on his life. It resulted in the dissolution of his marriage, the temporary loss of his kids, and ultimately the loss of his home.
An Ideal Candidate For A Service Dog
In 2016, Howe learned about the non-profit organization K9s on the Front Line by chance. Howe explained:
“I happened to run into an old high school friend, who had a service dog. God works in mysterious ways.”
K9s on the Front Line pulled a Boxer from a kill-shelter in Georgia just days before she was scheduled to be put down. That dog, Sobee, was paired with Howe and started training to become his service dog.
“K9s on the Front Line snatched her out of the kill shelter and gave her to me. Sobee and I finished the class in 14 weeks. We were top of the class.”
A Man And A Dog Who Take Care Of Each Other
Sobee’s rescue from a kill shelter is a wonderful thing in and of itself. Truly though, both Howe and Sobee need each other’s help. Howe put it:
“She wanted to take care of somebody, and she knew she had a mission. She saved me, I didn’t save her.”
With the addition of Sobee to his life, Howe found that he had a clear purpose again. He explained:
“When I got Sobee, I had purpose again, you know, I had to get outside and do things, because she needs to get walked. It kept me occupied, my mind off of whatever was going through my head and struggling.”
Howe told Daily Paws about the amazing ways Sobee is able to help him live with his PTSD and anxiety, thanks to her training.
“Sobee helps me wake up with a sense of purpose. Whenever I’m starting to have an anxiety attack, she’s right there, putting her face up to mine, saying ‘Hey. I’ve got you.’”
Sobee’s specialized training taught her how to cater to Howe’s specific needs. The Boxer knows to detect signs of panic attacks and mitigate them. She also helps Howe in public by keeping people away from him when necessary, calmly of course.
“I really don’t like it when people approach me from behind. So when someone walks up behind me, she won’t bark, but she’ll kind of back up against me and get between us.”
With Sobee as his companion and caretaker, Howe’s life improved dramatically. In addition to reconnecting with his two kids, he also has a new house, coaches youth hockey, and started a chapter of K9s on the Front Line in Missouri.
Howe now works training more service dogs to help other struggling people in need. So far, in three years Howe has paired over a hundred dogs and veterans.
A Hero Dog Award Candidate
Unsurprisingly given how much Sobee has done for Howe and consequently other veterans, the dog is a finalist in American Humane’s annual Hero Dog Awards. The event highlights the value dogs add to our lives and the incredible things they’re capable of.
This sweet Boxer, who almost faced a sad fate in a Georgia shelter, deserves to be crowned “hero.” As Howe put it:
“If it weren’t for Sobee, we wouldn’t be talking right now. She might have been two days away from death, but she’s the one who saved me.”
Watch the American Humane Hero Dog Awards on November 12th to find out if she earns the prize.