Retreat Stay Still Helping A Year Later
In January 2017, Michael Patnode, his wife Paige and their two children stayed at the Warrior Retreat. Paige told us, “The stay was a turning point for Michael because he felt valued. It was his birthday and he was in a good atmosphere where he didn’t feel judged and people just understood and welcomed him for who he was. And it was calm where he could be with family and friends and had space to breathe.” The seeds for a better future were also planted during their guest stay.
Michael Patnode with Chris Baity from Semper K9
Recognizing Michael’s need for assistance, the Patnode’s chose canine therapy as one of their activities. Chris Baity, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Semper K9, and two of his dog trainers came to the retreat with a dog in training to meet Michael and his family. Mike was so excited by the possibilities of what a service dog could do for him that he filled out an application that night while staying at the retreat.
It took nearly a year, but Mike got “Eve” on New Year’s Eve and Paige says “he’s madly in love with her!” Just three days into receiving Eve, Paige noticed the dramatic change in her husband. Being able to interact with Eve helped Michael be more present with the family especially with the children. Prior to this, he was self-isolating, something very common to those with PTS. Eve also brings love and attention to the children and likes to play with them. She’s been a blessing to the whole family.
Eve is trained to pick things up for Michael who has trouble bending over. She helps him with his shoes, socks, dropped keys, even the TV remote. Michael’s wife Paige says Eve also has a great personality. For example, Michael dropped his wallet in the Target parking lot. Eve picked it up, walked right past him, and gave it to Paige in a way that said, “Here you should hold this.”
“Eve comforts Michael. She is also trained in Dream Assistance and therefore able to interrupt stressful dreams. She’s very intuitive and wakes Michael up, in a calming way, when he’s having a troubling dream. There’s a total bond of trust between them and they take care of each other’s needs. Above all, she provides comfort, unconditional love, a good reason for him to get up in the morning, and she even helps him exercise twice day which Michael wasn’t doing before,” says Paige.
Michael has a TBI and has neuropathy which makes him unstable on his feet. Eve recognizes when Michael is struggling and leans against his leg to stabilize him and make him aware that he needs to sit. He feels a lot calmer in public with her. Crowds really bother his PTS and if he feels uncomfortable she’ll lean against him and he’ll pat her head. She actually hugs him if he needs it and is with him 24/7. Caregiving is a hard job because you are on duty 24/7. Between taking care of their warriors while juggling many things such as children, house issues, work, and classes, it’s incredibly stressful and tiring. Paige doesn’t feel as hyper vigilant because Eve is watching Michael and alerts him when he’s having problems. Paige, in turn, can watch the dog for clues as to when her husband needs her which allows her to focus on other things.
Michael and Paige are so grateful to Serve Our Willing Warriors. Truth be told, they touched our lives as much as we touched theirs.