By Linda Wilson Fuoco
September 24, 2016
Forty-seven years after Bill Fennell fought with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, he still suffers from the invisible wounds and scars of post-traumatic stress disorder. He has nightmares, anxiety in crowds and daytime panic attacks that make him reluctant to leave his house in Carnegie.
But everything is better since Faith entered his life in June.
Mr. Fennell, 67, says he is a man of faith — with a lower case “f”. Faith — with a capital “F” — is a German shepherd who was bred, trained and named at Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Inc. in Williston, Fla.
Darrell Sapp/Post-GazetteFaith is a Guardian Angel Service Dog that belongs to Bill Fennellof Carnegie. Mr. Fennell served in the U.S. Marine Coprs in Vietnam.
“My wife, Debra, and I were praying for a good dog,” Mr. Fennell. “God winked at us, and I got a dog named Faith. She is everything I could ask for.”
Faith gets along well with the family cats, Cisco Kid, Rocky and Sheba.
Mr. Fennell, a retired postal worker, says he sleeps better because Faith, 4, “senses when I’m having a nightmare.”
The dog lies on his chest and licks his hand, and he is soothed into a restful sleep.
Faith’s need to be walked and exercised forces her companion out of the house. “I have trouble meeting people, but now they come up to me to ask about my dog.”
He’s happy to tell them about Faith but sorry to tell them they can’t pet her because she’s working.
It takes one to two years and $22,000 to raise and custom-train a dog to meet the specific needs of a veteran. Faith was funded by Life Changing Service Dogs for Veterans, a collaborative effort between Veterans Cable Services in Bethel Park and Guardian Angels.
Anthony Accamando of Eighty Four, Washington County, is a Marine veteran who founded the Life Changing group. Since November 2015, the organization has raised $176,000 for eight dogs placed with Western Pennsylvania veterans. They hope to fund a total of 11 dogs by Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.
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