She was just 6-years-old when it happened, but the pain of her brother’s death is with Shelby Moore every day.
“The most prominent memories I think about sometimes is when the military men came to the door, I don’t think I understood why they were there,” Moore, now 17, tells KARE 11, who reported the story. “You don’t learn just to live with in, you live in it, you are it, you are the Gold Star family, you are trying to carry on his memory and do so while trying to grieve.”
Her 23-year-old brother, Minnesota Army National Guard soldier, Sgt. Nicholas Turcotte, was killed in Iraq in December 2006 when his armored vehicle overturned in an accident during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the years following, a therapist suggested Moore get a therapy dog to help ease her struggles with depression, anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), stemming from the loss.
A ray of hope arrived on Monday, in the form of a therapy dog named Max, and KARE 11 filmed the homecoming. Randal Thom, an Alaskan Malamute breeder from Lakefield, Minnesota, brought the 8-week-old puppy to his new forever home, wrapped in an American flag.
“Oh my gosh, thank you,” Moore said through her tears.
Shelby’s mother, Debbie Moore, had connected with Thom, who usually donates dogs to veterans, on Facebook and after he heard their story, he teamed up with Howling Hilltop Kennel and Training, which generously donated the the three year program of service dog training, KARE said.
“It’s still very difficult because for her she is afraid she is going to lose all those memories because she was so little,” said Debbie Moore. “I love her. It’s been tough on all of us, and I so wanted something to give her.”
After the surprise, Shelby told KARE the puppy is the best thing to ever happen to her.
“To have something that always needs me will be a really good thing for me to have and help me in my daily life,” she said. “It just brings a feeling of home and you are needed somewhere and that’s a really good feeling for me to have.”