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Service dog provides love, laughter, support

Warrior pair

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brent Young and Staff Sgt. John Meyer Jr., of Team Air Force, walk to practice for DoD Warrior Games, May 31, 2018, at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Warrior Games are an annual event, established in 2010, to introduce wounded, ill and injured service members to adaptive sports as a way to enhance their recovery and rehabilitation. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

Cairo

Cairo, Air Force Staff Sgt. Brent Young's service dog, waits for Young as he competes in archery during the 2018 DoD Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on June 7, 2018. The Warrior Games are an annual event, established in 2010, to introduce wounded, ill and injured service members to adaptive sports as a way to enhance their recovery and rehabilitation. (DoD Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg)

Warrior Care/Games Day 1

(U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Recently, Staff Sgt. Brent Young, 96th Security Forces Squadron, competed in multiple events at the annual Warrior Games.  By his side throughout was his friend and service dog, Cairo.

Here is more about this Warrior pair.

Cairo

Stats: Belgian Malinois, 2.5 years old.

Owner: Young
 

Injury: Post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury from two improvised explosive blasts and training combatives over the years and deployment to Iraq, 2004-2005.

Sports: Archery, shooting, wheelchair basketball.

Personality: “She’s a big sweetheart to me and to people she cares about. She’s very protective and very vigilant,” Young said. “She’s always paying attention to what’s going around and gives me a break from having to do it. At wheelchair basketball, we were able to pick our numbers, and I picked number 6 because she’s always got my six.”

Training and purpose: “When I start moving around, grinding my teeth and having nightmares, she’ll actually wake me up,” he said. “She’ll stand up on my bed and pounce on me until I wake up. I tell her, ‘Good girl.’ She catches it before the adrenaline dump happens. She breaks the cycle before I get agitated so I can get back to normal.”

Bonding: Young was originally training with a golden retriever when his grandfather passed away last year. His doctor didn’t want him to fly home alone, so his friend lent him Cairo, who was going through police training with her. “I was gone for 10 days and in that amount of time, when we came back, my friend said, ‘Sometimes, the dog picks the person.’ We just bonded,” he said. “We’ve been inseparable since.”

Importance of the dogs at the games: “I wouldn’t have been able to get through the first part of the opening ceremony without her. I was out of there once the concert started,” he said. “Just getting up to that part, the concert, I was pretty impressed I was able to, but I couldn’t have done it without her. Service dogs are absolutely necessary for people like me. She’s basically given me a life again outside of my house or work.”