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Timber received an Honorable Mention award in the 2015 AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) in the category of Service Dog. His owner, Morgan Master, a veterinary technician of Equinunk, PA, tells the story of how Timber went from being a victim of horrible act to becoming a service dog who saved her life. Timber is a member of the AKC Canine Partners program for all dogs,including mixed-breeds and rescues, and holds the AKC Canine Good Citizen title.

Timber’s story is one that started out in tragedy. At the tender age of 3 months, his owner dragged him behind his car for more than 3 miles. Luckily, the local humane officer was nearby and when she saw the puppy, she reacted immediately.

I was part of the surgical team at the closest veterinary clinic. We had just finished the last surgery for the day when the officer ran in with a dirt- and blood-covered screaming puppy. One ear was dangling by just a thread of skin.  The officer put the puppy right into my hands. Our medical team started administering anti-shock medications. Through the whole process, photos were being taken for evidence, and soon the media was involved.

I was assigned to the case as the primary caregiver technician. The puppy, at the time named “Dog,” would not eat for anyone at the clinic except me. The veterinarian asked me to take him home almost every night to give him his medications and change his bandages from road rash. He endured two surgeries, including one to remove his left ear.

He started the recovery process, and the time came to pass “Dog” to a temporary foster home. That night, I cried myself to sleep, thinking about him constantly following me around my house and sleeping in my arms at night.

Around the same time as Dog’s incident, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was not well controlled. I had begun cutting myself and not controlling my emotions, almost dissociating when triggers came up.

About a month went by with hardly any news about “Dog,” and then the case went to trial. The owner was forced to surrender the puppy. The humane officer called me and said “Guess who has a new puppy?”

My tears were happy ones.  I had renamed the pup as Timber, and he is now my PTSD service dog, working with a local trainer to teach him more tasks to mitigate my condition.

Looking back on that whole period of time is bittersweet, but in the end Timber and I had saved each other when our outlooks were bleak. I was on the verge of self-destruction, and he was on the verge of dying. Timber and I keep in touch the humane officer, and I always thank her for giving our lives back. The veterinarian is all too happy to see Timber when he comes to work with me, and I am forever grateful for her part in his care when he needed help the most. Since Timber has started training, he has alerted to and prevented many dissociative triggers and anxiety attacks. I feel humbled by the compassion he provides me, and I am sure the feeling is likewise on his part.