DENVER - It's safe to say Donald Maloy has changed a lot since his military days.
"I don't even know that if I went back and met me when I was in the service that I'd even know who I was talking to," Maloy says. "It's hard to even believe that that was real."
As a U.S. Special Forces captain he saw some tough things and had to do some tough things.
"I'd break down if I started talking about that," Maloy says.
So it was hard to imagine himself walking through the park with his service dog Jax whom he credits with helping him overcome PTSD.
"It was a complete rewiring," Maloy says. "I don't have to be frustrated anymore and Jax really had a large part to do with that."
Maloy says transitioning to civilian life made him feel like he'd lost his purpose. He was angry. And often took it out on his family.
Maloy says, "If I tell my 4-year-old to go and do a couple errands around the house and he doesn't just jump to it, the first instinct for me is frustration because I am so used to my guys, 'You got it sir,' and they jump up and get to work."
His wife suggested they get Jax, and join the Veteran's Puppy for Life program, which pairs veterans with PTSD with puppies who undergo training programs to help them overcome it.
But when another dog bit Maloy, he realized the work wouldn't be easy.
"I could feel everything in me wanting to just end this dog," Maloy says. "To just get rid of the dog. So for me to want to do that without any other thought it was it was just scary."
Maloy kept working with Jax. Taking care of him, became his new purpose. And as he trained Jax he began re-training himself.
"That just goes along with the patience and being able to rewire myself to not be so focused on the quick pace of getting him to do exactly what I want when I want him to do it," Maloy says. "But just to have the patience to let him kind of enjoy life."
"If I'm with my kids and I tell them to do something I don't lose my mind when they don't do it anymore," Maloy says. "It's just kind of like, alright, so you're being playful I can let that go."
And when tough times come? Jax is there.
"The desire for him to be relaxed makes me desire to be relaxed," Maloy says.
Now, as it's hard to imagine his life before Jax, it's just as hard for Maloy to imagine life without him.
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