2020 AKC Humane Fund ACE Winner: Service Dog / Luke the Lab

Photo:  AKC Humane Fund
Photo: AKC Humane Fund

“Luke,” a six-year-old Labrador Retriever, serves as a mobility service dog for his owner, Ryan Garrison of Beavercreek, OH. Garrison enlisted in the U.S. Air Force immediately following the September 11th attacks on the twin towers and was severely injured while deployed in Iraq in 2006. His injuries included fractured and torn disks in his back, which have resulted in numerous surgeries, chronic pain and anxiety.

Luke was paired with Ryan as his mobility service dog in 2016 through the nonprofit organization, Warrior Canine Connection (WCC). Luke not only helps Garrison with his mobility and everyday tasks, but since being paired with him, Garrison has been able to better control his anxiety and has even decreased his need for medication. Even more importantly, Ryan credits Luke with shifting his entire perspective on life – bringing him out of a dark place and giving him a new sense of positivity and happiness.

In January 2020 Ryan and his son were involved in a rollover vehicle crash, which triggered flashbacks of his incident in Iraq. Luke gently nudged and pawed at Ryan to pull him out of his anxiety attack. Once they were pulled to safety, Luke calmly walked over to him and took the comfort command position that he was taught at WCC. Even during such a traumatic incident, Luke followed his training and put comforting his owner ahead of anything else.

The experience with the incident earlier this year has inspired Ryan’s next challenge, Valor Therapeutics, a nonprofit he and his wife are launching to serve active duty, Veterans, and first responders in Dayton, OH and the surrounding area. They plan to provide alternative forms of therapy to individuals who’ve seen and experienced traumatic life events.

Congratulations to Luke and kudos to all of the competitors.

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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