Travis Peterson & Maggie

A dog helps a veteran with PTSD

Former US Army Staff Sergeant Travis Peterson suffers from PTSD. After years of therapy with human counselors, Travis decided to try a furrier kind of treatment. Earlier this summer, he acquired his service dog. Travis explains to View how Maggie helps him.

How does your PTSD affect you?

PTSD affects me in every manner of my life. I hate crowded places, so going to public venues is very limited. When I am out in public, I am hypervigilant. I have to look for or find possible threats. I can’t even go to church and let people sit behind me, due to the possibility of a threat or the unknown.

How were you and Maggie matched?

We were matched based on our personalities and expectations of each other. I had to meet with Maggie and a trainer one to two times a week to train and ensure that the pairing was good. She is a very calm dog that knows when I need her.

How does Maggie help you?

I have an easier time in public. Maggie helps me lower my anxiety levels. She is trained to get me out of crowded or busy areas and to watch my back in those same places. She will spin around if she hears someone walking behind us and will not turn around until they pass. Knowing that she has my back makes all the difference.

Does Maggie ever surprise you?

I’m always surprised how she can stay on task, but as soon as I tell her to say “hi” to kids, she’s in heaven. She can also jump higher than any other dog I have seen. And I don’t know if she was specifically trained for this, but she has woken me from bad dreams on numerous occasions.

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