Man’s best friend: Service dog changes US Army veteran’s life

Inside the Gates
Man’s best friend: Service dog changes US Army veteran’s life
Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 4:09 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For the last two years, wherever Jeff Matthews, a U.S. Army veteran goes, his furry partner, a 4-year-old Labrador named Lox, follows him.

“From the minute we wake up to the minute we go to sleep work we’re arm’s length apart,” Matthews said.

Lox became a part of Matthews’ life in 2022 after they were paired up through the not-for-profit organization America’s Vet Dogs. The organization is a service dog program that helps enhance mobility and independence for veterans, active duty members and first responders with disabilities.

“I can’t imagine not having him,” Matthews said. “I didn’t realize how difficult life was without him until I had him.”

Matthews said he applied for the program after he was recommended by his primary care physician.

“[My physician] recommended that I get one; said it might help me with my daily activities of daily living,” Matthews said. “Lox brings all my invisible disabilities to visibility.”

In February 2022, four years after Matthews was accepted by the program, he was paired up with Lox. He said a supply of dogs and the COVID-19 pandemic caused the delay.

Through the program, Lox was trained specifically to meet Matthew’s medical needs. Matthews said Lox has a variety of things he can assist him with, such as waking him up from nightmares, picking up items and walking.

“I couldn’t walk in a straight line. I would wobble,” Matthews said. “So he keeps me on a straight line.”

“When we’re going down the steps, he helps me to feel where the stairs are,” So it just makes it or I can be part of society again and not — folks don’t look at me differently any longer,” Matthews said.

Now with almost two years together, Matthews said he doesn’t know what he would do without him. And he says Lox’s daily assistance has allowed him to return back to as close to 100% as he can.