Love dogs? Watch how one pooch went above and beyond for his owner.

The incredible story of how this dog helped his human heal.

Veteran Dan Lasko returned home from Afghanistan after an explosion led to the loss of one of his legs. But the injuries that weren't visible were the hardest for him to face.

Watch Dan's story, or keep scrolling to read about it.

Dan was deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 for Operation Enduring Freedom, where he was injured in an explosion and eventually had to have his left leg amputated. When he returned home, he — like many others — experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


It’s not unusual for soldiers like Dan to experience anxiety and PTSD — to feel socially isolated and constantly on edge.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20% of those who served in Operation Enduring Freedom have PTSD, and about 8 million people suffer from it in any given year. For Dan, PTSD meant that he didn't want to leave his house, he was always looking over his shoulder, and he avoided crowds.

Enter man’s best friend.

Through the help of Vet Dogs, Dan got Wally, a black lab whose energy and spirit lifted Dan’s.

Service dogs provide more than just sloppy kisses and happy tails (although those are great, too). All images via Pedigree/YouTube.

A 2015 report by the Society for Military Psychology showed service dogs can help veterans cope with PTSD symptoms such as hypervigilance, nightmares, and impaired memory. These dogs are trained to perform tasks including patrolling the perimeter of a room so the veteran feels safer upon entering, turning on the lights to interrupt a nightmare, and blocking a person who is coming too close to the veteran — amazing, right?

The report also says that interactions with dogs can increase oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone. The increase in oxytocin helps counteract paranoia, improves trust, and has an overall positive effect on sociability.

Wally and Dan go everywhere together.

Wally became the support and motivation Dan needed.

Dogs naturally arouse a nurturing response — think baby talk and belly rubs — from people when they play with them. As a result, veterans with PTSD are in turn nurturing their own ability to once again connect with people.

One study also found that people with disabilities found it easier to make new friends after being paired with their service dogs. Dogs, service or not, can help initiate impromptu conversations with strangers, and for vets this helps enhance their social skills by turning outings into a more positive experience.

"I was always looking over my shoulder thinking that something is gonna happen. Having him around has really helped with the healing process," Dan says in the video. "He’s taught me patience, loyalty; he taught me how to be myself again."

Dan, along with his wife, Jessica, and their kids, have since adopted a rescue dog, Maggie, as a way of paying it forward for all the good Wally has done for them.

"Wally took care of me when I needed it, and I just wanted to pay it back to another animal. [Maggie's] a rescue and she's been through tough times, but hey, I have, too. I have a good support system here; you're with us and we're here to take care of you."

Most Shared
True
Pedigree - Learn From Dogs
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
Macy's