A dog lover all her life, veteran Wendy Clouser was still skeptical about the amazing change a service dog could bring to her life before she met Spirit five years ago.
“I never thought I could have a service dog,” she told PEOPLE. “Until I ran into a couple people and they told me what they did for them.”
With this encouragement, Clouser trained her service dog, Spirit, through The Argus Service Dog Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing service dog training for veterans at no charge.
The Argus Service Dog Foundation, founded by Brandon McMillan, Mike Herstik and Eric Brotman, allowed Clouser to get Spirit trained as a service dog without wait lists or hefty prices, and has provided her with the follow-up attention she needs to keep both Spirit and herself happy and healthy.
“They give lives back to people,” said Clouser in summary of what the non-profit has done for her and other veterans she knows.
Before having a service dog, the veteran, who suffers from PTSD and other serious injuries, would go through the motions of her life, but never felt like she was “genuinely laughing and smiling.” Now, she can go out and feel comfortable and happy in social situations, and has even taken up kayaking and rock climbing.
“She’s not just my dog, she’s my partner,” Clouser said.