WADSWORTH — Bryan Carpenter said Fahrny has already made a positive impact on his life. Carpenter, 33, is one of four armed services veterans to return from the Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs facility in Williston, Florida, with a service dog,
He is benefiting from his German shepherd thanks to Armstrong Cable’s Healing Heroes Initiative.
After joining the Marine Corps in 2005, Carpenter was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, where he sustained injuries from two roadside bombs that June.
“The second one completely annihilated me,” Carpenter said Tuesday.
After being in a coma for two-and-a-half-weeks, Carpenter woke up weighing only 120 pounds and was told that he would never walk again.
“I had to learn to walk, I had to learn to talk, I had to learn to live all over again and pretty much start from day one of my life again,” he said.
After returning from Iraq, Carpenter purchased a home in Wadsworth, where he spent some of his school years, and brought home his brother’s dog.
Carpenter said he credits that dog with helping him through his recovery.
“I am alive because of that dog,” he said.
Carpenter said his pit bull mix died of cancer in 2016.
“Once she passed away from cancer, my life crumbled,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said some people from social media had seen that he was in need of a dog, and a friend then contacted the Guardian Angels program.
Healing Heroes Committee Chair Sam Pietrangelo said in the statement that the training, pairing and expense for each dog costs about $22,000.
Carpenter said he and fellow veterans spent 10 days at the Guardian Angels facility to learn how to work with the dogs.
“We had to walk with them and take them in elevators and do all these tests before they would actually pair us and send them home with us,” he said.
Carpenter said the veterans had to demonstrate that they paired well with the dog, before it would be released into their custody.
Launched on Veterans Day 2016, Armstrong’s Healing Heroes is a partnership with Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs aiming to provide service dogs to qualifying area veterans struggling with a variety of disabilities.
“It is very satisfying to see these veterans coming back with smiles on their faces and starting their ‘new normal’ at home,” Armstrong President Jeff Ross said in a statement.
“When Armstrong committed to this cause in 2016, these were the moments we were most excited to see.”
To date, the organization has paired six veterans with service dogs, and has goals to pair up at least five more veterans with a canine companion.
A former lance corporal, Carpenter said it has been great being able to take Fahrny around with him, and the dog has him feeling more positive.
“… Probably the smartest thing I have ever done in my life is get this dog,” Carpenter said.