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Thursday - February 18, 2016 12:00 am

Nightmare ends with love from service dog named Gotham Knight Featured

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Pets 4 Independence helps unite 
Rottweiler with suffering veteran

His name is Gotham Knight. No, he’s not the Batman. Not quite. Instead of stopping vigilantes, he’s helping veterans.

Oh, and he’s not a bat. Or a man. He’s a K9 – a Rottweiler to be exact. And, more specifically, Gotham Knight is a service dog helping Walter Birdsell overcome PTSD through a program out of Caledonia, Minn, called Paws 4 Independence.

Wednesday, Gotham Knight and Birdsell received a $500 donation from Midwest Family Broadcasting station Z-93 and the Days Inn of French Island to help with training.

Birdsell served in the Army from 2007-09, but returned severely disabled from a tour in Iraq. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, which triggers sudden and intese fear, as well as anger.

Gotham Knight has saved Walter Birdsell and his wife Mallorie, too.

“I have nightmares quite a few times a night,” Walter Birdsell said, “and my wife tells me how many times (Gotham Knight) just curls up next to me. I’ll be convulsing and calling out in my sleep, and he’ll actually come up and lay down on me and lays across me.

“From what she say, it calms me down, and I just go right back to sleep.”

Mallorie cherishes the help the Rottweiler has brought to her husband.

“He does a lot of compression therapy, where he lays up against Walter when he has nightmares,” Mallorie described. “He can sense the anxiety in Walter when he starts to have a flashback, where he’ll go over and he’ll lick him and kind of bring him out of it.”

Finding Paws 4 Independence has helped Birdsell beyond his home. He’s helped him get comfortable in public, at gatherings like Oktoberfest.

“I was actually afraid to take him down there just to see how anxious he would be and everything,” Birdsell said. “And he did amazing. He led me through the crowd. He made sure that I was fine. He got me to a safe place where I could just be myself, sit back and enjoy things.

If you would like to donate to Paws 4 Independence, click here.

If you would like to learn more about the group, click here.

Last modified on Friday - February 19, 2016 2:47 am
Rick Solem

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