We are very proud to have the opportunity to introduce you to Kiska. Kiska was born here in Gillette, WY to a wonderful family. Anyone who  met Kiska knew she was special and destined for a greater purpose. Here is how she started a journey that has changed more than one life.

Philip Fraher, E4, 3rd Class Petty Officer, Navy CB served in the Vietnam War in Binh Dinh and Da-ang. He enlisted at the age of 17 in September of 1970 into the Navy. He was sent to Vietnam in February of 1971 and served 13 months there.

As a result of serving in the Vietnam War, Philip was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety by the VA Hospital, in 2008. During the 40 years between the war and this diagnosis he received no help or treatment, so he self medicated with alcohol. Also around 2008 a Pastor at a church started talking to him and helping him. Soon after he rededicated his life to Christ.

As a result of getting help from God, his church, Pastor, congregation, and the VA Hospital he was able to stop drinking. Phil was able to start a new life but something was still missing. His doctors at the VA Hospital strongly recommended and prescribed a service dog.

After this ‘prescription’ was made Philip began to look for a service dog provider. The search took him four years. He and the church continued to pray for him to stay in recovery and to find a service dog. On May 8, 2015 his prayers were answered. He located Patriotic Service Dog Foundation & Tackett Service Dogs, Inc., where he met Tom Tackett & Nikki Esser, for the first time. Philip was informed that they currently did not have a dog that would suit his needs, but they committed to finding him the perfect dog. Philip came to the Tackett Service Dog/Patriotic Service Dog Foundation training facility 6 days a week to help and to learn with the dogs. Philip was the first one to the training area most of the time and was very excited to be with the service dogs.

Then that very special day arrived! On Thursday September 17th, 2015, the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation purchased Kiska, a beautiful, great temperament, Golden Retriever from Sonya Dorr & Jennifer Hoffmann. Before Kiska’s journey, she came to Animal Medical Center for a complete health check and a required spay. Dr. Lynde and our staff were touched by the journey ahead for Kiska and wanted to be apart of it so we decided to donate our services. We couldn’t be happier to be a part of this wonderful story.

It was love at first sight between Philip and Kiska. They bonded immediately! Kiska is already living with and helping Philip everyday, while still training. When Kiska lived at the training center, her and Philip looked forward to see each other every day. They trained with each other and played with each other. Philip started to get his home ready for Kiska by getting her room ready with all sorts of fun toys and comforts. Philip has really come out of his shell, talking and having fun. Every evening when Philip left the training center, it was evident that Kiska missed him.

Things that most of us take for granted like going to the store, restaurants, bus, banks, etc… has been very difficult for Philip. If he had to go someplace, he would go at very odd hours, to avoid people. He is able to come and go with ease now that he has Kiska. He is now able to sleep with the lights off which he has not been able to do for years. As Kiska continues to improve in her training and Philip and Kiska continue to grow in their relationship, there are endless possibilities. Philip was able to attend a fundraising event for the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation; the event had a band and Disneyland fireworks going off in the background, and for the first time Philip was able to stay and enjoy everyone’s company with Kiska at his feet. The love and service from Kiska has truly changed Philip’s life for the better and he thanks God for her everyday.

Thank you to Philip for sharing his story with us. Thank you to Sonya and Jennifer. Thank you to the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation and Tackett Service Dogs, Inc. for everything they do! Special thank you to Tom Tackett and Nikki Esser for helping Philip and Kiska. Thank you to Kiska, for bringing a new beginning to more than just one story.

The Patriotic Service Dog Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on serving our veterans by raising awareness for their needs and providing Service Dogs to those who may benefit from long-term mental and physical assistance. Through the efforts of Patriotic Service Dog Foundation wounded veterans are matched with highly trained and skilled Service Dogs that allow their new partners to become more independent, self-confident, and comfortable with life outside of the military. This close knit community of volunteers and professional trainers works alongside deserving veterans to develop lasting and meaningful bonds with dogs that provide so much more than just companionship.

If you would like to help the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation, visit their website for more information.

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