From Foster to Forever

Zac joined the Puppy Jake Family with his wife as a foster family, but throughout their journey, they became so much more than volunteers. At the time, Zac and his wife had been locked in an 8-year battle with the VA to get disability benefits and had experienced firsthand the shortfall in assistance for veterans, fueling their passion for helping fellow vets. 

 As they were helping us to raise a puppy, Kernel, Zac realized that his time in the military had more of an impact on him than he realized. After struggling with public spaces and crowds for years, Zac found that he could rely on Kernel to have his back, easing his anxieties and making life much easier. Although Zac and his wife loved Kernel, they were ready to pass him on to the right veteran. 

In a meeting with one of his VA mental health providers with Kernel training by his side, Zac’s provider asked him how his anxiety and PTSD had been over the course of Kernel’s training, and if he’d ever considered applying for a service dog himself.

 “And honestly, I hadn’t. In the military, you really learn to push through any struggles, especially mental health-wise, and maybe I hadn’t fully admitted to myself the extent of my trauma.”

After realizing how much his quality of life had improved with Kernel, Zac decided to apply for a service dog himself, with the encouragement of his wife. While the Foxes were prepared to wait a few years and train more dogs, they were surprised with the news that Zac had been assigned a dog–Kernel

“We were elated. Kernel and I were already extremely bonded and he had already helped me so much. Since having Kernel, I am more confident, less anxious, and functioning at a higher level than I have been in years. It has also given my wife her freedom back as well. I can go to the gym, pick up groceries, out to dinner, and even to a movie theater without the debilitating anxiety that I had previously. I’ve slept better with Kernel by my side than I have in years, and he has not only changed my life and given me my freedom back, but also changed the lives around me.”

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