Kasey’s Story – A service dog’s journey

A post in honor of Veteran’s Day!

🐾🇺🇸 Thank you for your time, bravery, and sacrifice for this country. 🇺🇸🐾

We celebrate with the story of working partners, Joe and Kasey.

A service dog placement, while a labor of love, is lengthy and all-consuming for all participants involved. Following the many months of advanced training, we move on to partnership training, and finally permanent placement. Then, more work follows, as the service dog and his partner build their relationship.

We always check in but also often get emails from the adopter about their progress. This time, Kasey sent us an email :).

(Guest post from Cell Dogs Service Dog, Kasey, and his partner Joe.)

“My Name is Kasey, and this is my love story.”

After a series of unfortunate events, here’s how he turned his (and someone else’s) life around.

“I was born in Texas on August 6, 2020, and I am a Labradoodle. I’m golden, and weigh in at 78 pounds, so I’m big and strong. I am also told that I am very loyal to my handler and family, and I like that because it’s true. Even with all these amazing qualities, I had a tough start.

I’m told Labradoodles are highly desirable as pets, but, sadly, many people who pay lots of money for them become disenchanted because breeders tell people we are hypo allergenic, when that’s not really true. My mom was a yellow Lab, and my dad was a large, white Standard Poodle so I look like a big terrier with lots of scruffy hair. Although my hair doesn’t shed as much as a purebred Lab, my curly hair is found in most rooms. For this reason, and the fact that 2 families didn’t realize how much work is involved in raising a puppy, I was re-homed 3 times before the wonderful people at Cell Dogs swooped in to rescue me.

My first family purchased me as a Christmas puppy for their young children, from a breeder in TX. Both parents worked, and the kids were either in school or daycare. I really didn’t understand what happened as I had a great time when I first arrived as everyone wanted to play with me, and give me belly rubs all the time. Then suddenly, the house got very quiet, and no one was around. I was so worried and confused, I cried most of the time they were gone. No one took me outside to play or gave me a potty break, so I found, what I thought was a secret place to hide my “business.” Needless to say, this was not to be my forever home.

I was only 5 months old, when my first family gave me to some friends of their neighbors who said they had lots of experience training puppies. Their “experience” meant that all their dogs lived and slept outside because they had a large property in CO. I was still only a baby and had no idea what to do, so I just followed the other dogs all day long. I didn’t get much to eat because everyone had to fight for their share of food, and I was so cold during the winter months. I was alone and bored, and spent most of the day digging a hole under a fence which eventually was big enough for me to wiggle under it. This was so much fun as I could run around the fields all day and the go home at night to sleep and eat. Unfortunately, a neighbor didn’t like the idea of me playing with his sheep, so he called my owner and threatened to “deal with me” if they didn’t keep me in their yard. Rather than invest the time to fix the fence and give me some training, they just gave me to a friend who was working from home during Covid.


Siena was really nice to me, but never had a dog before. Even though she didn’t know how to train me she made sure to take me for walks after work, and quickly learned that my best friend was an old tennis ball. She did the best she could but had to lock me in her room when she finally went back to work after the pandemic had passed. Both of us were miserable and Siena made the right decision to find better forever home for me.

Cell Dogs found her posting on Adopt-a-Pet which started the ball rolling for my move to CA, and my life as a service dog for a very loving Marine veteran and first responder. Cell Dogs did not want Siena to ship me to CA so they came up with a plan to meet half-way between CO and CA for the “handoff.”  After lots of hugs and tears I was finally on my way to a life I’ve always wanted and a loving partner, all to myself!

Before being eligible for service dog training, I had months of basic obedience and socialization training. During that time, I proved I had great problem-solving skills, and a keen sense of awareness of my handler. Those qualities, coupled with my drive to learn more, made me the ideal candidate for the Cell Dogs service dog program. I spent 1 ½ years learning lots of cool things during that time, and was successfully paired with Joe.

Now, let me tell you about Joe, and why we are together. Joe served his country in the U. S. Marine Corps, the New York City Police Department, and the US Marshals Service. He experienced a few things that people shouldn’t have to do, see, or suffer. As a result, Joe is often lonely, and sad, from what I was told is PTSD and depression. His nightmares and night terrors have been so severe that they caused serious injuries, including broken bones, one requiring facial reconstruction.

I was partnered with Joe in June of 2023 to help him with his PTSD. We had a transitional training period of 3 months before we became a team. We were told that the “bonding process” was the most important part of our relationship so we spent lots of time getting to know each other.  We learned a new “language”, and new skills in public settings, coupled with lots of play sessions and belly rubs. That made both of us happier. I think we are an excellent match as we both take care of each other.

After our Partnership Training, we had to pass a test, called the Public Assess Test. We had to perform various tasks together in a public location that may not have looked very important to others, but they meant the world to Joe. Despite both of us being nervous, our trainers told us we passed with flying colors!  Joe was so happy that he couldn’t stop smiling at me and that made me very happy.  When we got home, Joe really spoiled me with lots of yummy treats and a big dinner.  The best part of the day was when we watched a movie while Joe spent lots of time brushing my fur and rubbing my belly.

When I am not working, I love running, so it’s off to the dog park and if I’m really lucky, Joe takes me to dog beach. I love it there as I get to run far and afield, but also check back in with Joe every couple of minutes. He likes to play games, and occasionally hides among people or behind the lifeguard stand to give me a challenge. I always find him!

We go everywhere together, even to restaurants. Sadly, we recently attended a funeral for a 31-year-old Police Officer who had untreated PTSD, and committed suicide. I only wish that Officer had a Service Dog like me to help him. I like my job and I love Joe. I know that I make Joe very happy and he certainly makes me feel loved and appreciated.

Despite a “ruff” start, I have the life I always dreamed of.  Our lives are so much better because we are partners for life!”

We are thankful for the support of and Petco Love’s Helping Heroes Grant. We could not do this without their generous help!

Love our service dog stories? Read more here:

Petco Love’s Helping Heroes Grant of 2022

Buddy’s story – A service dog’s journey

Duff’s Story – A service dog’s journey

Ruby’s Story – A service dog’s journey