By Rebecca Santana / Correspondent
Posted Jan 26, 2018
Seven years ago, Michael Gaither felt hopeless. Long after his military service in Vietnam, he was still traumatized and suffering. He didn’t want to see his children. He drew the curtains and locked the doors of his Chiefland home.
This is how he planned to spend the rest of his life.
Then came Honey, a full mobility and post-traumatic stress disorder medical service dog.
|Michael Gather, a Vietnam veteran, and his service dog Honey are reunited after Honey's 100th treatment at the University of Florida small animal clinic. Lauren Bacho Staff Photographer|
Gaither and Honey met through a research project conducted by the Veterans Administration that pairs medical service dogs and veterans with PTSD.
Honey and Gaither were the first dog-and-man pair in the program. The moment Honey met Gaither she stayed with him, and she hasn’t left his side since. The couple call her “Honey the wonder dog.”
For the past seven years Honey has given Gaither physical and emotional support. She helps the 72-year-old dress every morning, picks up anything he drops and comforts him when he has night terrors.
“She’s like she’s part of me,” Gaither said. “I’ve never left the house for seven years without her.”
Both Gaither and Honey are terminally ill. Besides PTSD, Gaither has multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. He’s currently in hospice care at Malcom Randall VA Medical Center.
“Honey takes his mind off all that,” said Gaither’s wife, Kaye, 75.
Honey is affected by aspergillus, a fungal infection that no amount of antibiotics has been able to quell. She’s being treated at the UF Small Animal Hospital with the integrative medicine service.
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