Connor and his service dog, Bradley, have been paired for seven years, and in that time, Bradley has helped Connor regain his confidence and independence.
“Bradley has been such an instrumental part of my life that I truly can’t imagine what life was like prior to being paired with him,” said Connor.
Connor’s Life Before Bradley
Prior to graduating high school, Connor enlisted in the Army on the delayed entry program. He began his military career in Ft. Benning, Georgia, what is now Ft. Moore, to do his basic training and OSUT (One Station Unit Training) as an 11Bravo (Infantryman).
Upon completing basic training, he was assigned to the 4th Brigade 2nd Infantry Division in Ft. Lewis, Washington. There, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion 23rd infantry regiment, where he served most of my career as a SAW gunner “Automatic Rifleman.” He deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and returned back to the States in 2013.
After being discharged from the service, Connor began having Gran Mal seizures. “Bradley has and continues to provide me with the confidence that I am never alone should I have a seizure. I can’t count the number of times I’ve awoken distorted from just having a seizure, and he’s looking into my eyes. I know, though, that I am never alone and haven’t been since being paired,” said Connor.
How Bradley Has Changed Connor’s Life
Bradley has given Connor the confidence to go about his day-to-day tasks without being afraid of having a seizure in public.
“Prior to having Bradley, I was extremely reserved and withdrawn. I never knew when the next seizure would occur. For that, I am forever grateful to the staff that helped train and pair me with Bradley. I still remember the day I was paired with Bradley as if it was yesterday,” said Connor.
Connor, a graduate of Duquesne University School of Education, has a career as a high school teacher, teaching 10th-grade U.S. History and Political Science “Government” to seniors.
When Connor is working, Bradley gravitates to several different parts of the classroom, but to the casual observer, they would never know Bradley is in the room until they see him.
“In many ways, he’s a part of the classroom, and my school district and the community have welcomed Bradley with open arms. He is an extension of me, and I am forever grateful,” said Connor.
Connor’s Advice for Future Recipients
“If I could give any advice to someone who is interested in a service dog but still on the fence about the decision or intimidated, I would recommend talking to someone who has been paired with a dog and also doing some deep reflection,” said Connor.
Prior to reaching out and applying for a service dog, Connor spent a lot of time reflecting on how it would change his life for better and worse. “As for me, a college student just returning home from active duty, I knew I would no longer be invisible and be able to blend in with my peers. In essence, I weighed out the pros and cons, but ultimately, I knew it was worth taking the leap, and I haven’t looked back,” said Connor.
In addition to his gratitude to Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Connor also has a deep appreciation for the other amazing organizations that made his pairing with Bradley a reality. “I am also extremely grateful to Life Changing Service Dogs as well as Duquesne University for sponsoring my pairing with Bradley. Being paired with Bradley was a life-changing experience that I still to this day do not take for granted,” said Connor.
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