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Calgary veterans fundraising to cover service dog’s medical bills

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A Canadian Armed Forces veteran says he is humbled by fundraising efforts to help cover his service dog’s medical bills. Jackie Wilson reports – Feb 14, 2021

After 20 years of service in Canada’s Armed Forces, Brad Locke says he has physical and psychological injuries, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Your mind just automatically looks for the danger,” Locke said from his home near Pierceland, Sask., on Sunday.

“Anything to do with the thought of losing control. Crowds, especially lineups,” added Locke, describing his triggers.

His saving grace has been his service dog, Odin.

“I picked him up when he was nine weeks old, and we’ve been inseparable ever since,” said Locke.

“When we’re in public, in crowds and I start getting triggered, he gets my attention on him by rubbing my leg.

“I take medication every hour and I have an alarm on my phone that goes off. I have very bad short-term memory, so if the alarm goes off and I don’t take my meds, he reminds me by tapping my leg on the pocket where I keep my meds.”

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Read more: Canadian veterans face increasing wait times for mental health services: reports

The veteran’s life wouldn’t be the same without Odin but the dog is sick.

Odin has severe allergies, according to Locke, and an antibiotic-resistant bacterial ear infection.

Locke is medically retired, his military pension isn’t enough to cover the bills, and there are no ongoing federal supports.

“We’re probably $45,000 to $50,000 into him now,” Locke said.

“It’s been line of credits and credit cards to keep this going, and we pretty much maxed that out.”

Read more: Many military veterans don’t feel adequately recognized or supported: experts

Odin has been receiving care at the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

He has another round of treatments coming up soon and that’s why the Veteran Association Thrift Shop in Calgary has stepped up to help, running a Vets for Pets fundraiser over the February long weekend.

Half of the proceeds will go to Odin, and the other half will go to Saving Grace Animal Society.

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“We were really stressing where we were going to get this money,” Locke said.

“It’s humbling. I’m speechless. I can’t put it to words. I’m going to cry. It has been an emotional roller-coaster.”

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