There are times when my dog JD tries my ever-fragile patience. Other times he was the cause of massive fights between my husband and I.

When we first brought him home, we were forced to discover each other’s disciplinarian styles. My husband is far more of the “iron fist” type of man while I cave as I project my own neglected childhood onto him and end up giving in.

The first and subsequently only time JD ever tried to bite my husband was early on. I was sitting on the couch and JD was curled up next to me. My husband was teasing and taunting JD and when he tried to sit down, JD lunged at my husband’s face and tried to bite him. Before I realized what had happened, my husband had JD on the ground and was ready to hit him. I screamed, instantly started to cry, ran into our bedroom where I bawled uncontrollably and begged my husband not to hurt him.

He did not, of course, but wanted to teach JD a lesson.

JD, as I have come to know, does not like being disturbed while he is sleeping and was being territorial over me. He has not done it since, but at that point he was still learning my husband’s provocation style of play.

JD, short for Jack Daniels, had to be taught how to play when we first brought him home. He was uninterested in balls and playing fetch, he did not entertain himself with bones nor did he like to rough house with us. Having grown up with dogs, my husband knew far more about training and playing with them than I did. It wasn’t until my husband literally put the toys and bones in his own mouth to show JD what to do that JD became interested.

JD is a rescue dog that I found at the Centex Second Chance Humane Society back in June. I had just gotten out of the Army due to a service-connected disability and wanted to find a dog I could train to become my service animal. The ladies at the shelter said he was a 3-year-old black mouth cur who had been surrendered from his previous owner due to constantly running away. JD, and from what I have read about all curs, has boundless amounts of energy. I can take him on five walks a day and it still is not enough.

They, whoever they are, say we do not pick the dogs, the dogs pick us. I believe this to be true. When I went to the humane society to choose a dog, I didn’t see him until the very end of the line. He was all alone in the back of the “barn,” as the shelter referees to it. While all of the other dogs where barking and jumping around their kennels, JD was calm.

Looking back on it, I admire his ability to keep sane considering where he was and all of the chaos around him. When I was deployed in Baghdad, Iraq and could not get away, there were times I felt like I was losing my mind with all of the noise and chatter.

When I went up to his cage, JD came up to me and stuck his paw through the wire gate. I took it in my hand and just held it while looking into his beautiful oval brown eyes. Again, like they say, I just knew this was going to be my dog.

The first few weeks we had him were exceptionally stressful while trying to train and figure him out. Often times I wondered what on earth I was thinking in getting a shelter dog, but never for one moment would I or my husband ever think of giving him away.

JD is my boy. He is my buddy, my shadow. Although it sounds crazy, I know him better then I know myself. In many ways he is just like me. He gets anxious and neurotic at times, just like I do, but he has a way of calming me as I do for him.

But there are also ways he is the complete opposite like when we are at the dog park. JD is a social butterfly when it comes to other dogs, playing with whoever chases him, while I stand off to the side hoping and praying no one will talk to me.

I never knew how much having a dog, having a service dog to train, would change my life, how it would give me purpose after leaving the Army much sooner and far differently then I thought I would.

He has challenged me and forever changed my life.

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