Jason saved Axel’s life, and just like that, Axel, a German Shepherd who was just 2 days from being put down, saved Jason’s life right back.
We first introduced you to USMC Captain Jason Haag and his service dog, Axel, back in April. That was the beginning of a contest that Jason hopes will help him changes more lives.
Axel was nominated for the Hero Dog of the Year through the American Humane Association. Their story is an incredible one, and if you haven’t heard it, grab some tissues and get ready.
Jason served 3 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine, where he received multiple awards including the Purple Heart. He was seriously wounded, both physically and mentally, but his toughest challenge was just on the horizon: coming home.
Jason was diagnosed with PTSD, he had severe flashbacks and blackouts, violent outbursts and sleepless nights. He went to Veterans Affairs for help, but like too many veterans, he didn’t find what he needed. Instead, he was given medication, medication that would be the beginning of a very dark period for Jason. At one point, he was on 32 medications, 12 of them narcotics.
He isolated himself from his loving wife and children. He didn’t want to live anymore. And although he says he never attempted suicide, he said he didn’t care if he lived or died. On the verge of falling over the edge, he ran into a neighbor during one of his very rare trips outside his basement. His neighbor was also a veteran and also suffered from PTSD, but he had help: A service dog.
“I said like three words to him: I was like does this work? He simply said, ‘yes,’” remembers Jason.
Jason knew it could be the last chance he had at survival. He called K9’s for Warriors, and a few months later, Axel came into his life.
The thing about Axel, is he too, was in need of saving. Axel is a beautiful german shepherd dog, who was just a few days away from being euthanized at a shelter. K9’s for Warriors picked him up and help Jason go through training. “I think they definitely know that their purpose is to save us and our purpose was to save them.”
Looking at the bond between Jason and Axel, you can tell they depend on each other. Axel depends on Jason for food, water and of course belly rubs. Jason depends on Axel for companionship, unconditional love and support that’s hard to describe.
That’s why Axel was nominated for Hero Dog of the Year. Not only did he save his human once, he continues to do so each and every day.
For Jason, Axel has been the difference between life and death. Now, Jason wants to save more veterans just like himself, veterans who got lost in the system, forgotten about, discarded, or addicted to medication and alcohol. He wants there to be more Jason and Axels, but to do that – they need donations. If Axel wins Hero Dog of the Year, the donation and spotlight could help create more relationships just like theirs, and save more lives. “It would mean a lot. I mean, he is my hero,” says Jason. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. He saved my life, he saved my family’s life.”
Jason now has a renewed purpose. “I hope so. Unfortunately we probably hurt a lot of people when we were over there. But now, but I think it is our life work now to help as many people as we can,” says Jason. “Now it’s saving lives instead of taking them.”
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