Service Dog Saves Life

September 10, 2020

Ashley McCaffrey is the happiest she’s been in years.

The Florida veteran enlisted in the Air Force in 2006 after deciding she wanted to do something different and make a difference for her country.

She spent 91 days in Iraq as the only female in her squadron. At the time, she didn’t realize the mental strain her deployment was causing. Instead, she just focused on being strong.

“I was the only female when I was deployed. I had worked so hard to establish that respect and that rapport that if they knew something was wrong with me, everything I worked for would be gone,” explained McCaffrey.

McCaffrey eventually retired due to PTSD and a back injury. She desperately tried to find the right solution for her depression and anxiety. She said random things would trigger traumatic memories.

She said, “Instant oatmeal! That’s another thing because my mom would send me packages of instant oatmeal and for some reason for the longest time, I could not even open a thing of instant oatmeal because in my brain, it would put me right back.”

In 2019, she applied for a service dog through the K9s For Warriors organization. She was accepted but was put on a two-year waiting list. However, due to COVID-19, someone couldn’t attend the required training. Since McCaffrey was local, she got a call that a female Labrador retriever named Hope was ready for her. They graduated in July and the two are now inseparable. McCaffrey says Hope saved her life.

“She’s probably saved my marriage because even my husband is like, I have my happy wife back. I have the person I fell in love with 14 years ago,” she said.

McCaffrey says since getting Hope, she can now sleep for two-three hours at a time and get through stressful workdays by looking at Hope and taking a short walk outside when she feels triggered.

When asked about any advice she has for someone dealing with mental struggles, McCaffrey offered this — “Don’t be afraid to ask for help because that help is actually going to save your life.”

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    K9s For Warriors

    January 7, 2021

    K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that provides military veterans suffering from severe PTSD, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma with service animals, recently changed the name of its main campus to honor its leader and founder Shari Duval. Duval began K9s For Warriors in 2011 after her son returned from two tours in […]

    Read more

    More Recent News