The troops who protect our freedoms abroad often face significant hurdles when they return to civilian life. In the case of Army Command Sergeant (ret.) Gretchen Evans, the physical toll of combat left a permanent mark. She had her life irreversibly changed when she was injured by a rocket blast in Afghanistan. That attack cost Gretchen her hearing, and at age 46 she was forced to reorient virtually everything about her life.
The promise of a better tomorrow came to Gretchen with a wagging tail, four paws and unlimited love. Aura, a trained hearing service dog, was paired with Gretchen five years ago. Having a service dog has entirely changed Gretchen’s life, empowering her to be an active, fully participating member of her community.
According to Gretchen, “I was in despair after my injuries. I needed a helper. What I received was a fur guardian angel.” The bond between Aura and Gretchen is a testament to the lifesaving, lifechanging power of the human-animal bond. It was made possible through America’s VetDogs, a non-profit dedicated to providing “enhanced mobility and renewed independence to United States veterans, active-duty service members, and first responders with disabilities.”
Essential to Aura’s service is her unconditional love, always by Gretchen’s side and ready to help, she is the model of a perfect service dog. According to Gretchen, ” She knows I am deaf but loves me anyway. Always by my side, head up and ready for anything. She is my hope. I am forever grateful to her. There is not a medication or a therapy that could do for me what Aura does for me every day.”
This year, Aura’s exceptionalism is being recognized on a national stage – after nearly a million votes from animal lovers across the country, she was named American Humane’s Guide/Hearing Hero Dog of 2020.” Now, she is one of seven finalists in the running to be America’s top dog. You can vote for Aura to be the 2020 American Hero Dog at http://www.herodogawards.org.