Two young Marine Corps veterans, Jake Taylor and Alex Peterson, have just published a children’s book about the amazing connection between Specialty Trained Service Dogs and their Wounded Warrior “battle buddies”.
Both Jake and Alex, who retired from the Marine Corps for medical reasons, graduated from Freedom Dogs, a unique program based in San Diego which trains Specialty Service Dogs to support the recovery of America’s Heroes recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury.
“My Service Person” was written by Jake Taylor and his life with his Freedom Dog, Tobin. The book’s illustrations are done by Alex Peterson, who also met his service dog, Koda, through Freedom Dogs. Written from Tobin’s perspective, he tells a story that is both tragic and heartwarming. The reluctance to expose the inner conflicts that our service members face, is countered by the sheer will and drive towards finding the joy in life that only dogs seem to possess. This is a dog’s account on how to create a better life and good mental health for us all.
Jake Taylor served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2004-2008. After suffering a severe Traumatic Brain Injury in 2016, Jake began to experience short term memory loss and severe PTSD. Jake has been a member of the Freedom Dogs family for almost 4 years. Tobin, his faithful shadow, never leaves his side. Through the positive behavioral training that the service members are taught in handling their dogs, Jake has developed his own methods of cognitive behavioral therapy. Jake’s hope is to create a program that treats PTSD patients faster and more effectively than current treatments, without the use of pills and medications.
As a U.S. Marine, Alex served two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan and has lived with PTSD for over a decade. Alex and Specialty Trained Service Dog Koda united as partners for life in 2018. Koda has been instrumental in Alex’s recovery and transition into civilian life and later into college where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Today the two lead a healthy, happy lifestyle with most days spent outdoors learning and training. Alex continues to work with Freedom Dogs while he pursues a career as an artist. Alex’s focus is to bring awareness to the troubles we face as a result of trauma and make widely known that there is help available.
Freedom Dogs is headquartered in Oceanside, just outside Camp Pendleton Marine base. For the past 14 years, its mission has been to speed the recovery and enhance the lives of wounded military heroes through the use of Specialty Trained Service Dogs.
“My Service Person” is available on Amazon in print or Kindle version. Jake and Alex are planning to donate a portion of sales to Freedom Dogs