The veteran and the labradoodle: How a service dog helped a TEDActive attendee step back out into the world

A beautiful and inspiring story about a man and his dog & how they’ve helped each other heal. On a more personal note, this story also serves as a reminder that PTSD – and all that comes with it (memories of falling from heightsl…) – is an invisible condition/disability.

TED Blog

Lon Hodge and his service dog, Gander, go everywhere together. After decades of living with debilitating PTSD, Gander is helping Hodge step back into the world. Photo: Courtesy of Lon Hodge Lon Hodge and his service dog, Gander, go everywhere together. After decades of living with debilitating PTSD, Gander is helping Hodge step back into the world. Photo: Courtesy of Lon Hodge

Lon Hodge and his labradoodle, Gander, are at a McDonald’s near the Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois, a quick stop for a bite as they travel across the United States. “He never leaves my side,” Hodge explains to a curious woman, patting Gander on the flank. “He’s special.”

Hodge and Gander are on the road interviewing the families of US veterans who committed suicide; the result will be a book, Fetch, which he aims to self-publish early next year. Hodge, a TEDActive attendee, is a veteran and one of the 5.2 million adults in the US who have post-traumatic stress disorder. Gander, also a friendly face at TEDActive, is the service dog who saved his life.

Hodge served…

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