Mid-Michigan agency teams veterans with shelter dogs - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Mid-Michigan agency teams veterans with shelter dogs

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HOWELL TOWNSHIP (WJRT) -

(11/16/12) - A Mid-Michigan veteran says a specially trained dog has made his life much better.
The Midland man suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, but his new best friend helps him get through tough times.

Mike Grywalsky was serving as a Marine in Iraq in 2003 when his Humvee hit an IED. He suffered a traumatic brain injury.

"I just thought I would be the Marine and just tough it out and suck it up," Grywalsky said.

Back in the states, when everyday life became too stressful, Grywalsky turned to Stiggy's Dogs, a Livingston County agency that matches shelter canines with veterans like him.

"We specifically interview veterans and we go and look for a dog that fits their needs and their lifestyle," said Jennifer Petre of Stiggy's Dogs.

In June, Grywalsky met Barrett for the first time.

"He's like a partner. He's like a teammate. Anywhere I go, Barrett goes," Grywalsky said.

Barrett is part golden retriever, part poodle and part Irish wolfhound and he's loved by his adoptive family.

"It's been a positive experience, a very positive experience. Our kids have bonded with him very much," said Mollie Grywalsky, Mike's wife.

"It was literally like we were supposed to be together," Grywalsky added.

Recently Grywalsky had a horrible nightmare. 

"Barrett just noticed that obviously something was going wrong. I was asleep in bed and Barrett jumped up on my chest and licked me and woke me up," Grywalsky said.

Grywalsky can be stressed by walking into stores and just being out in public. Barrett helps ease his mind.

"He has done what no medicine could do; what no therapy could do," his wife said.

There's a long waiting list of veterans who would love to have one of Stiggy's Dogs.

"Stiggy's is a wonderful organization. They find the right dogs. They help the vet that really needs help.

For more information on Stiggy's Dogs, click here.

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