Service Dog Helps Veteran Live Life to the Fullest

For Sudhir, Indie’s calm, loving presence is the best medicine.

Sudhir + Indie

Indie’s calm, gentle presence and keen training make her the perfect partner for Army veteran Sudhir’s post-traumatic stress disorder treatment.

"Indie has made a difference in my mental health and family life. He is able to influence my behaviors in a positive way and shower me with happiness. Spending time with him allows me to forget stress, anxiety, and worries."

My name is Sudhir Shrestha and I was born in Nepal. In 2010, I enlisted in the Army at the age of 39. I felt very fortunate after coming to this country with nothing, as I was able to get my education and lead a successful life. As such, I resigned from my professional career to serve this magnificent country with honor and dignity. In 2013, I deployed to Afghanistan. There I was exposed to violence that affected my mental health. Because I endured severe mental trauma, I was fortunate to participate at a retreat organized by the Renewal Coalition. I was referred there by the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU).

During the retreat, the idea of a service dog to help with my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) popped up. Months later, I was introduced to Indie through Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch. Indie has already made a difference in my mental health and family life. He is able to influence my behaviors in a positive way and shower me with happiness. Spending time with him allows me to forget the stress, anxiety, and worries that usually surround my mind. 

Indie is able to make an impact on my everyday life by lessening the trauma associated with triggering events. His calm behavior helps me better cope with fear, depression, and anxiety. Whenever we go out, Indie provides a physical barrier between me and the public. He also applies stress reducing pressure on my legs as a social bridge from a crowd. Because of Indie, I am comfortable leaving home for grocery shopping or for other daily tasks. 

Indie offers me love, comfort, and companionship and protects me from others, especially when we are in a crowd. I feel like I am starting to live my life again with the help of Indie. He is able to keep me mentally alert and physically strong whenever we are out in a crowd or at a shopping mall. With his unconditional love and affection, I no longer have the negative thoughts about life that constantly hovered around my head. With Indie’s help, my mental health is improving gradually, and I am acquiring the ability to participate in social activities with friends and family. Indie has also alleviated my PTSD symptoms and depression, saving me from the isolation I felt in the past. I feel more confident to go out and do things with Indie as it also allows me to be a leader like I once was in the Army. Indie acts as my eyes and ears as he is hypervigilant for me. This way I can focus more on myself rather than scanning the surrounding atmosphere.

Recently, I medically retired from the Army and live with my wife and three children. I am still trying to adjust to a civilian life, especially with PTSD symptoms; however, my days seem to be getting better with Indie by my side.

Each year, Petco Love Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Sudhir won Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch in Jupiter, Florida a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.