The purpose of the maCares Service Dog Support Program is to relieve the financial burden of caring for a service dog so that the person can focus on living a full life. Our program provides financial assistance for service dogs which help those with physical, neurological, and/or medical challenges. The covered expenses may include re-certification training, veterinary, medications, grooming, and daily care including food.
Brittany is the first nonveteran to be welcomed into the maCares Service Dog Support Program! Brittany developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), currently referred to as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), which results in her experiencing weakness in every limb due to the pain. She is unable to feel certain sensations in her hands, like hot versus cold or sharp versus dull. She uses a wheelchair and crutches on a daily basis due to dystonia affecting her left leg.
Since July 2016, GRIFFIN has helped Brittany become more independent, as well as aided her in mobility by carrying items, retrieving dropped items, and even helping her communicate with others when she falls. GRIFFIN has also increased Brittany’s social interaction, by helping her to become more active and giving her the constant help that she needs, especially while she was working to earn her graduate’s degree. GRIFFIN allows Brittany to focus on her life and enjoy life, by taking the focus off of the constant pain Brittany experiences daily. Brittany and GRIFFIN love to volunteer in the community, by giving to local shelters and working different events, like 5K’s at school. They also love sharing their story and how GRIFFIN has changed Brittany’s life. Brittany is the current Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina USA and is competing in the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant while promoting her platform Tassels Without Barriers.
Dustin is the first initial former first responder to be welcomed into the maCares Service Dog Support Program! Dustin served as a Virginia State Trooper for over 10 years. In August 2015, he responded to an incredibly gruesome and graphic call, which changed his life. Since the life changing call, he has been diagnosed with PTSD, experiences panic attacks, heightened anxiety, fear, trouble sleeping, night terrors, anxiousness from being in crowds, constant headaches, muscle aches, and tension. TAHOE matched with Dustin in February 2017. TAHOE wakes Dustin up before his nightmares get too severe, helps with his anxiety and depression, alerts him when someone is approaching from behind, has improved his family life, and helps him to interact more with people.
Dustin and his beautiful wife have 2 wonderful daughters. Dustin shared that receiving assistance through the maCares & faith Cares Service Dog Support Program is a huge relief after trying to figure out how to keep up with the demands of expenses on a reduced income, as Dustin is unable to return working as a State Trooper, and is pursuing an IT degree.
Dustin & TAHOE enjoy volunteering and spreading awareness about how service dogs help others. He enjoys fishing and sports, mostly baseball and football. TAHOE is eager to work on his skills and also loves playing ball with Dustin.
Harrison is a 6 year old boy, who has a twin sister and an older brother. After being born at 35 weeks, Harrison’s twin sister was able to go home, but Harrison had to stay in the NICU for breathing and feeding issues. Harrison was delayed in his developmental milestones and has been receiving physical and occupational therapy. At 4 years old, Harrison was diagnosed with a genetic condition, most likely under the umbrella of mitochondrial disease. He experiences extreme fatigue and lack of energy to even eat, muscle weakness at a cellular level, pain in legs and back, and sleep disturbances. However, on the outside he looks like a healthy little boy. No one would know his struggles except when he can’t sustain activity.
PARKER, a medical alert service dog, is that answer. PARKER is a Briard named after “Peter Parker” aka Spider-Man, which Harrison loves – every superhero needs a sidekick! These 2 were matched in July 2017. After completing training, PARKER went home with Harrison in May 2018. PARKER allows Harrison to be a part of the world, including socializing with other children.
PARKER helps other children focus on them as a team instead of seeing what Harrison can’t do. PARKER also helps Harrison ambulate, gives balance support, forward momentum, helps with his pain and calming him by giving him deep pressure therapy, encourages him to eat during mealtimes, disrupts behaviors so he can conserve his energy (he has limited energy stores due to his progressive disease), and alerting when he needs help.
The deep pressure therapy and other methods PARKER provides helps decrease the amounts of medications he needs (pain, sleep, etc). Currently, Harrison & PARKER are working on retrieval, pushing buttons, and tasks to help more as Harrison’s disease progresses. PARKER allows Harrison to have more independence. Without PARKER, Harrison is pretty isolated from friends, school, and normal activities for his age group.
Harrison and PARKER enjoy being involved in “The Miracle League” (an adaptive baseball team).
Harrison loves his siblings, dogs, superheroes, dogs, and taking pictures with his camera. Harrison says he’d like to be a daddy when he grows up.
Lynn was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes almost 15 years ago. She experiences drastic blood glucose levels and finds it difficult to stay on top of constantly checking her sugar levels while at the same time raising her daughter, working, and pursuing a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Lynn was matched with Big B, a Diabetic medical alert service dog, in June 2017. Big B is the primary mechanism by which Lynn can detect rapidly changing blood glucose. Since Big B is with her at home and school, Lynn has noticed a huge difference in her health and life. Big B alerts her throughout each day. With Big B’s help to stay on top of monitoring her levels and reminding her to take her medicine, Lynn’s cognitive function as well as her performance in school has improved. He also helps Lynn to be more grounded and present for her daughter.
Without Big B, Lynn thinks she would likely have continued to feel overwhelmed and be in denial of her imminent health issues, which would have resulted in life threatening diabetic complications in the future.
Lynn looks forward to getting out to do volunteer work to benefit the community. She is becoming involved again in one of her life long passions of social justice work at her daughter’s nonprofit school. During her clinic internship this summer, she plans to start providing free acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to people in several nonprofit programs in the community.
Maggie is the first youth to be welcome into the maCares Service Dog Support Program! Maggie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes) when she was 3. For the next several years, Maggie was hospitalized anywhere from 1-3 times per year due to blood sugar complications and slipping into Ketoacidosis (a serious diabetes complication where the body produces excess blood acids). As a fragile diabetic, Maggie is susceptible to drastic fluctuations in her blood sugar levels. Her sugar level has to be checked every two hours, including in the middle of the night, and before eating.
In January 2015, 10 year old Maggie was matched with an American Lab, a Diabetic Alert Dog. Maggie named her SUGAR. During SUGAR’s initial meeting with Maggie, she made a gesture with her paw to her trainer, indicating that she sensed Maggie’s blood sugar level was high. They tested Maggie’s blood sugar and discovered SUGAR was correct. SUGAR helps Maggie every day and has saved her life multiple times. One time SUGAR detected Maggie’s low blood sugar while SUGAR was at home and Maggie was at school! Having dealt with diabetes for over 9 years, Maggie has become insulin insensitive, which means she no longer feels the fluctuations. SUGAR is able to alert Maggie before the drastic fluctuations occur.
SUGAR has been instrumental in helping to manage Maggie’s blood sugar levels, which results in a better quality of life later for Maggie. Now that SUGAR has completed 2 years of training with Maggie, she is able to attend school with Maggie.
Maggie loves to sing, dance, attend concerts, and play board games. She is very active in her church youth group and loves to volunteer, especially for mission trips. She also enjoys volunteering to speak to various groups and events about how SUGAR is life changing and also about proper service dog etiquette. Maggie would like to be a Country Music Singer when she grows up and with SUGAR by her side; we have no doubt she will go far!
Meet Wyatt & HUNDLEY! Wyatt’s childhood has been full of many medicinal changes, therapists, psychiatrists, one inpatient hospital stay, and multiple ER visits. Wyatt has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), and Social/Separational Anxiety. He is undergoing psychological testing for Autism. One of Wyatt’s largest struggles seems to be with emotional meltdowns which can be extremely dangerous, both for himself and others.
In July 2017, HUNDLEY was able to go home with 9 year old Wyatt. HUNDLEY is a Briard which originally was bred to herd. HUNDLEY will herd WYATT when he attempts to flee from an anxious situation. Having HUNDLEY’s companionship and presence helps keep “a paw” on the situation and diffuses potential meltdowns at their earliest sign. When Wyatt is in his flight mode, HUNDLEY uses learned commands to touch him and try to bring him back to his family or teacher. Her coat also serves as a tactile response. Wyatt’s mom has shared that every day before HUNDLEY was a struggle and now they have less bad days and more good days.
Wyatt enjoys playing a game with HUNDLEY called “Briard Relay.” Wyatt also loves to play Minecraft, soccer, create artwork, and visit the trampoline park. When he grows up, he would like to be a professional WWE wrestler.
faith Cares, a veteran-exclusive level of our Service Dog Support program, strives to change the life of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or Traumatic Brain Injury and provides support for their service dogs. This program is named in memory of the late U.S. Army Sergeant Faith Hinkley, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. faith Cares is a continual sponsorship program initiated in 2013 to assist veterans by raising funds to cover the expenses for their service dogs potentially including re-certification training, veterinary, medications, grooming, and daily care.
SGT Terry White, PH OIF U.S. Army (Retired) served in the U.S. Army Infantry for 3.5 years and after he was injured, he served as an U.S. Army Engineer for 2.5 years. Since August 2011, FAITH has been a lifesaver to Terry and his family as she has comforted and helped each of them to be able to cope with the emotional trauma related to war. FAITH comforts Terry when the bad memories and survivor’s grief are overwhelming and his depression resurfaces. Without FAITH, Terry feels he may not still be here. FAITH also helps Terry cope with migraines, anxiety, and flash backs of being at war and seeing war injuries. FAITH and Terry actively attempt to help everyone they come into contact with- whether it is someone experiencing emotional distress, a child recovering from an accident, or visiting the VA Hospital.
FAITH is named after the late U.S. Army Sergeant Faith Hinkley who died on August 7, 2010 in Iskandariya, Iraq. Faith was part of the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The faith Cares program was created in memory of U.S. Army Sergeant Faith Hinkley where FAITH is the primary spokesdog.
SFC Brock C. Strickland, U.S. Army (Retired) joined the Army at 17 as an Army Medic. During his service, Brock spent time in Iraq as a medic and helped train Iraqi soldiers to be medics. Brock suffers from PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as migraines, sleeplessness, arthritis, and constant pain.
Brock and TANNEN were matched in 2015. TANNEN comforts Brock when he is depressed, experiencing nightmares or migraines, and helps him feel safe in public, especially in large crowds, by distracting Brock to redirect his attention from his anxieties. TANNEN helps keeps Brock on a schedule. Without TANNEN, Brock feels he would be sleeping until 3 every day, not leaving the house that often, and would be less likely to talk to strangers. TANNEN has changed Brock and his family by allowing Brock to strive to be the father and husband he is meant to be. Brock and TANNEN enjoy helping other veterans train with their service dogs as well as educating the public about service dogs, which makes Brock feel like he has a purpose again.
In Memory of SSgt. Charles Ladd, U.S. Army served for 8 years, completing 2 combat tours in Iraq and 4 combat tours in Afghanistan. His last duty station was at Fort Bragg in the 3rd Batallion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Staff Sergeant Ladd was a Purple Heart recipient, as well as many other medals he was awarded during his tenure in the military.
Charles, who is warmly known to his maCares family as “Chuck”, and his service dog NIKKI were one of the first maCares sponsored service dog teams in 2012. At the time, NIKKI was a puppy training to be Chuck’s service dog to help him cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and effects from his Traumatic Brain Injury. NIKKI was able to help Chuck in many ways including acting as a calming influence for him, by distracting him when a panic attack was occurring, and by waking him up from nightmares. Chuck was extremely passionate about maCares & faith Cares and helped spread awareness of the maCares initiatives, including the development of the faith Cares program for veterans with service dogs. He was always the first to volunteer to help, showing his wholehearted commitment to giving back to the community.
Unfortunately, Chuck lost his long, hard-fought battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on February 7, 2016. Chuck’s wishes to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery were able to be honored with the help of the faith Cares supporters. NIKKI has retired from being a service dog and lives with Jessica, Chuck’s wife, in North Carolina.
NIKKI’s namesake is U.S. Army SPC Nichole M. Frye, who died on February 16, 2004 in BAQUBAH, IRAQ and was assigned to Company A, 415th Civil Affairs Battalion of the Army Reserve in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Lieutenant Commander Charles Greg Williams was in the U.S. Navy for 28 years, where he served in Norfolk, Operation Desert Storm, and Afghanistan as an electronics technician before retiring as an intelligence and information assurance officer. Two of the tours he served as Commanding Officer and one tour he served as Executive Officer. During his time in the military, Greg developed Post Traumatic Stress.
Greg was matched with TOMMY (a Black Labrador named after singer Tom Jones) in November of 2018, forming a special bond surprisingly quickly. TOMMY helps Greg in the following ways: alerts to and lowers anxiety escalations, assists in crowds and stressful environments, interrupts nightmares to allow better sleep, provides deep pressure therapy to help calm, assists with the completion of work tasks, and interrupts stress-caused tics.
Greg and TOMMY like to educate others on the benefits of service dogs. Greg enjoys staying active by fishing, hunting, biking, exercising, and camping. He also enjoys reading, computer gaming and repair/IT Networking.
SPC Jason Gregory, U.S. Army (Retired) served as Military Intelligence while in Iraq and as a Communications Specialist. Since 2013, FLEET has helped Jason manage his anxiety, depression, awaken from nightmares, re-focus to the present instead of flashbacks, and manage his fear of going out in public. Jason enjoys being able to take his best friend, FLEET, everywhere with him. Together, they like to go on walks, play fetch with sticks, and watch the sunset on their back porch.
FLEET is named in honor of PFC James Fleet McClamrock who passed away at 22 years old on Tuesday, September 7, 2010, from wounds sustained in a shooting incident while serving his country in Iraq. Jamie was from Huntersville, NC and served in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
SCPO John Fleming, U.S. Navy (Retired) joined the Navy on his 17th birthday and served for 23 years in many different areas of conflict during 3 tours. Upon discharge, John was diagnosed with leg and nerve issues and Post Traumatic Stress.
MERCER was matched with John in 2015 and has tremendously improved the quality of life for John. MERCER assists John when he is experiencing nerve issues or symptoms from his heart condition. MERCER reduces John’s anxiety, stress, anger, and depression. He has awakened John during nightmares and flashbacks, calming him. MERCER alerts John to people approaching from behind and when his anxiety levels increase, MERCER helps John regain control. All of MERCER’s help gives John the confidence and assistance to interact with others, lessening his feelings of being out of place and his loneliness.
MERCER has given John added motivation to get out and enjoy a new life – for him, his family, and his friends. With MERCER’s help, John volunteers teaching ESL English, which is something John says he would have never been able to do before. John and MERCER also like to give back by volunteering at the homeless shelter to feed the hungry. John enjoys church activities and singing in the choir, fishing, walking trails, and sporting events.
MERCER is named after Mercer University in Macon, Georgia because he was born during the NCAA Tournament and they were part of the Sweet 16 his litter was named after.
SGT Keith Harrison, U.S. Army (Retired) served in the U.S. Army & U.S. Army National Guard for 24 years, including 2 combat tours. SGT Harrison served as a Combat Medic during his first tour and as Rear Detachment by taking care of soldier’s families on the second tour. Beginning in June 2011, ELLIOTT improved Keith’s quality of life by helping Keith to go places he normally wouldn’t, especially indoor crowds. ELLIOTT comforted Keith during his migraines and during episodes of psychological distress caused by his PTS. ELLIOTT alerted Keith to a potential anxiety attack or agoraphobia and assisted to mitigate and control Keith’s reactions to stress. Keith thought of ELLIOTT as his lifesaver. ELLIOTT and Keith enjoyed attending events that help others.
ELLIOTT’s namesake is in honor and memory of SPC Daniel “Lucas” Elliott who died at the ago of 21 on July 15, 2011 in Basra Iraq on his second tour in Iraq. Lucas’ last deployment in May 2011 was with the 805th MP CO, located in Cary, NC.
Suddenly in August 2018, ELLIOTT showed signs that something was not right. The veterinarian determined ELLIOTT had developed a rapidly growing invasive type of cancer that has no cure. With heavy hearts, Keith and the maCares family had to say goodbye to ELLIOTT.
A few months later, Keith began his journey of searching for his next service dog. He has been approved by an certified training facility and is waiting to be matched with his next service dog. Stayed tuned for updates!
SSG Lacy B. Miller, U.S. Army (Retired) served as an Air Traffic Controller in the Army for 10 years. FELIPE has given Ben the ability to integrate into the public domain and has given Ben the confidence to be a part of society. FELIPE has helped Ben by reducing his anxiety and anger, providing comfort in settings Ben would normally not be comfortable in, interrupting nightmares, and providing a warning to oncoming seizures by encouraging Ben to sit or find privacy. Ben and FELIPE like to visit schools and educate others about service dogs as well as have children feel the calming effects of having FELIPE around.
FELIPE is named in honor of Marine Cpl. Felipe C. Barbosa, an infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C., who died at 21 years old January 28, 2006 by a non-hostile vehicle accident in Fallujah, Iraq serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Barbosa had been in Iraq since September. He was a Marine from High Point, North Carolina, born in Brazil who became a U.S. citizen less than a year before his death.
CPL Manuel Rivera served in the United States Marine Corp for 10 years in a range of positions including Embark Logistics, Hazmat, Ground Safety, and Marine Air-Ground Task Force Planner (MAGTFP). During his tour, he was involved with Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) as Field Military Police.
Manny was matched with TANK in 2012 to aid with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a seizure disorder. TANK provides Manny the security to live a full life safely while experiencing seizures. TANK alerts Manny, as well as Manny’s wife, when a seizure is approaching so Manny can get to a safe area and roll to his side, keeping him alive. TANK also helps lower anxiety and stress levels, interrupting nightmares, and assisting with stability.
Manny and TANK do everything together. They like to volunteer to spreading awareness of proper service dog etiquette and training. Without TANK, Manny says he would be lost.
SSGT Michael Scott served as an Airborne Air Assault Jumpmaster and Parachute Rigger in the Army for 24 years. During his 2 tours, he was stationed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) to protect children as a Section Sergeant Security. Mike also participated in the 50th Anniversary of D-Day drop into Normandy.
BO was matched with Mike in December of 2016 and is providing Mike with the confidence to acclimate into society. BO has helped Mike by reducing his stress levels, anxiety, negative thoughts originating from survivor’s guilt and moral injury, sleeplessness, retrieval of dropped items that Mike is unable to recover due to mobility limitations, and alerting to sounds Mike is unable to hear due to his bilateral hearing loss. Mike and BO like to give back by making connections with other veterans. Mike enjoys camping, fishing, building models, drawing, and family time.
BO is named in honor of a fallen hero who is remembered for his ability to lead and entertain those around him with music and laughter, but also for sacrificing his own needs to help those less fortunate. BO is a tribute to how the fallen hero lived his life: service to others first, in hopes that those in need will have a better life.
SGT Robert Brown, U.S. Army (Retired) served in the U.S. Army Infantry during the Vietnam conflict. He spent two tours as a Tunnel Rat and was wounded twice. After 20 plus years, Bob found it difficult to leave his home. Since December 2012, AMY has helped Bob manage his stress and anxiety levels by demanding he redirect his attention to her when his stress levels start to rise. AMY will lick Bob’s face to awaken him from a nightmare. AMY also provides pressure therapy before Bob has a nightmare or his stress levels begin to rise. AMY helps Bob with his mobility by acting as a brace for Bob to help him regain his balance. If AMY is not able to help get Bob up by herself after a fall, she will alert Bob’s wife. Without AMY, Bob feels his life would be so much worse with the PTSD, moods, stress levels, and isolation. Bob and AMY enjoy spreading awareness about the difference AMY and other service dogs make in a person’s life.
AMY’s namesake is a true American Hero, U.S. Army PFC Amy Renee Bullock-Sinkler who proudly served with the 17th Combat Sustainment Battalion 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and died on Thursday, January 20, 2011 in the Baghlan province of Afghanistan while defending her convoy against insurgents.
HM1 (FMF/CAC) RET Traci S. Barrett served in the United States Navy from February 1994 to September 2015. She served as a Security Corpsman in Iraq from February 2008 to September 2008 and as a CASEVAC (Casualty Evacuation) in Afghanistan from May 2009 to April 2010. CASEVAC is like an Army Medic that flies in helicopters to transport emergency patients in dire need of evacuation from a combat zone.
Hospital Corpsman (HM) are Naval medical specialists who may also serve in a United States Marine Corps unit, which HM1 Barrett did and earned the warfare designator of enlisted Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Warfare Specialist for being a highly trained member of the Hospital Corps who specializes in all aspects of working with the United States Marine Corps operating forces. HM1 Barrett underwent advanced training in aircraft in-flight support roles, extensive training in flight operations of naval aircraft including weapons management, electronic warfare, and water survival to qualify as a Marine Combat Aircrew (CAC) member.
Traci suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury, which causes her to become dizzy and lose her balance, narcolepsy, and anxiety. KIARA is a beautiful Great Dane and Old English Mastiff mix that Traci has had since KIARA was 6 weeks old. In late 2012, 8 month old KIARA began training to be Traci’s service dog. To make sure KIARA was helping Traci in every way possible, they went through additional training in 2015 that has prepared them to enhance handling and mitigating Traci’s symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress and anxiety.
KIARA is a source of stabilization for Traci when she experiences weakness in her legs as well helps Traci be more independent and mobile when becoming unsteady on her feet. KIARA also provides a warning to Traci’s oncoming narcolepsy attack (becoming unconscious without warning). Without KIARA, Traci would not be able to drive, leave her house to go out in public, or do anything by herself. KIARA is able to alert Traci to anxiety through behavioral cues and compression. She also alerts Traci if there are people who might startle her by walking up behind her.
Traci and KIARA enjoy spending time with friends and family as well as volunteering together.
SPC Travis Peele, U.S. Army served as a Tracked Vehicular Mechanic in Iraq for 4 years. Overseas, Travis performed route clearance searches for road side bombs (IEDs). His unit encountered and destroyed over 3,600 bombs.
Travis was matched with DEUCE in 2011 when DEUCE was just 7 weeks old, and was able to take DEUCE home when he turned 7 months old. DEUCE helps Travis cope with the anxiety of being in crowded places, alerting when there is a spike in emotion, and interrupts nightmares by waking him up. Without DEUCE, Travis feels he would isolate himself from the world. Travis and DEUCE’s favorite way to give back is volunteering with maCares and teaching children and adults about service dog etiquette.