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National Dog Day: Remembering Lager & Zoe
August 26, 2014
Today is National Dog Day. We want to recognize dogs and their amazing ability to provide unconditional love and emotional healing to our nations veterans.
Dane was an avid animal lover. He often wrote in his journal about his two dogs, Zoe, a shiba inu and Lager, a German Shepherd, "these dogs are my life."
Zoe was Dane's 'girlfriend' all throughout his 2 deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would ask us to send him pictures of her and ask how she was doing as if she really was his girlfriend! It was adorable. Unfortunately, Zoe was fatally struck by a car on October 8, 2013 after escaping from our home. Dane handled it unusally well, we believe because he had Lager who was helping him deal with his PTSD so much.
Dane with Zoe, summer 2012
Dane with Zoe, summer 2011
Dane got Lager at the end of 2012 in an attempt to lift his spirits and give him something to love and care for. He slowly got comfortable working with Lager and training him to behave properly so he could take him in public. His intense anxiety and depression stemming from PTSD made it very hard for him to leave the house. In large crowds, he would always feel uneasy and on edge, as if he were about to be ambushed. Lager helped him with this, he knew that Lager 'had his back'. If something/someone was acting suspicious, Lager could respond to that and warn Dane with a growl or a bark.
Just the presence of Lager brought that smile back to his face and lifted his spirits. Things worsened after the loss of Zoe and tragedy struck again. On November 23, 2013, Lager had a sudden heart attack while playing outside with his brother, Gunnar. Dane was right there when it happened, and was able to hold him when he took his last breath. This was very traumatizing for Dane and totally unexpected.
20 days later he ended his battle by taking his life. We will forever be thankful for the joy, laughter, and happy memories these two dogs brought to Dane's life. We will continue to honor Dane and Lager by raising funds to place more dogs with struggling veterans through the Cpl Dane Freedman PTSD Service Dog Fund .