When David Broido first left the Army, he didn't intend on adopting a service dog—he just wanted a pet. So, he adopted a pit bull named Bones to be his companion.
However, a few years after his service ended, Broido's post-traumatic stress disorder became increasingly worse. Broido tells Daily Paws he was experiencing nightmares, panic attacks, and disassociating in public. At that point, Broido decided it was time to give Bones training to transform from a pet to a service dog.
Courtesy of David Broido
Bones took his training well and exceeded expectations as Broido's service dog. But unfortunately, the pup was diagnosed with cancer. After a 9-month battle, Bones passed away in 2018.
"There was a period there where I said to myself, 'I'm just absolutely not ready to have another dog,'" Broido tells Daily Paws.
But one day, Broido says he woke up and was ready to get another service dog. He tells Daily Paws he didn't want to adopt another pit bull because it would make him feel as though he was replacing Bones. Instead, he adopted an Australian cattle dog—also known as a blue heeler—named Blue Ferrigno, or Blue for short.
"I remember the moment that I met Blue. I couldn't even see what he looked like; he wouldn't slow down for long enough," Broido tells Daily Paws.
Blue is still energetic at home, but once he puts his service jacket on, he's all business. As a service dog, Blue assists Broido through his daily routine, reminds him to take his medications, and keeps him safe in public.
Broido says one of the most important tasks Blue is trained to perform is deep pressure therapy. If Broido is experiencing a panic attack, especially in public, he can lie down and Blue will lay his body weight on top of his chest, which helps calm him down.
"That is very helpful in situations where I have to completely excuse myself from any scenario and go take a chill pill somewhere," Broido tells Daily Paws. "I'm sure it looks weird to people, but some people just see it like a dude oddly snuggling his dog in a strange location."
While Blue's first job is assisting Broido as a trained service animal, he also provides companionship and love. Broido says the two are a perfect match; they both let their rambunctious and sassy personality shine at home, but in public, they're well-behaved gentlemen.
"I'm not saying every single vet needs a service dog, but they are an incredible tool to veterans who may need them and not realize it," Broido says.