Jennifer & Service Dog Stryker

Service dog helps Army veteran adjust to life after Iraq

Jennifer + Stryker

When Jennifer DiLuzio came home after serving in Iraq, she began experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) so a friend recommended she look into getting a service dog to help ease her symptoms and make life more manageable. That’s how she met Stryker.

"Stryker’s given me the confidence to enjoy my life again"

As a member of the U.S. Army, Jennifer’s life was forever changed by the September 11 attacks. What she thought would be a one-year deployment in Korea became a two-year deployment in Iraq, and two years away from her young daughter.

After bravely serving her country, Jennifer returned home and struggled to return to civilian life. She suffered night terrors and would get panic attacks while out in public places with large crowds.

“A buddy of mine that I had served with showed me this TV show about veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries who were being rehabilitated through service dogs,” said Jennifer. “After struggling, I thought maybe this could help me, too.”

She did some research and discovered K9s For Warriors, an organization that rescues, trains and pairs service dogs with veterans. K9s For Warriors matched Jennifer with Stryker.

Stryker the Service Dog

Once Jennifer brought Stryker home, she began to feel safer and more confident.

“For the first time in many years, I could finally go shopping and enjoy so many things with my teenage daughter that we never got to do together before,” said Jennifer.

Stryker the Service Dog

Stryker continues helping Jennifer get through her daily activities. He helps her run errands, provides comfort, and wakes her up if she’s having a nightmare.

The transformative impact Stryker’s had in her life has made Jennifer consider him not just a service animal, but a best friend.

“Stryker’s given me the confidence to enjoy my life again,” said Jennifer. “I feel like he’s given me a second chance at life that I thought I would never get.”

The Petco Foundation and Merrick Pet Care are joining together to support the incredible work of service, therapy, and other working animals who save and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Donate today to support Helping Heroes like Stryker.