NORTH BAY – A retired military veteran and his wife in Astorville thank northern Ontarians and coast-to-coast Canadians for raising enough money to buy a new service dog that will help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Eric Lalonde retired from the Canadian Armed Forces last February, and his 11-year-old German Shepherd mixed service dog, Nala, is due to step down from duties due to her health decline.
Eric served in the Canadian Army for 23 years. He was posted to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Kuwait. When he returned from overseas, he spent part of his career in North Bay before retiring.
After his retirement, Eric was certain that he would no longer need a service dog. Until he realized that Nala would not only encourage him to work with him, but also encourage him to keep a positive attitude and motivate him.
“If Eric is too stressed, she will absorb that stress and after that he will be calm and better, but she will have seizures,” explained his wife, Caroline.
Nala’s pancreas fails and she suffers from hip dysplasia. The couple has already spent thousands of dollars on medication and veterinary bills.
“She’s been very helpful and supportive and made my life a lot easier,” said Eric.
Eric needs a new service dog. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, no service dogs are available. They wanted to adopt a rescue dog. But many of them have their own problems, they said.
Then a service dog trainer told them about a breeder with a puppy that was ready to go in March. The trainer put Eric at the top of his list. But the cost was high. The purchase, specialty food, and all associated costs would cost $ 2,500 plus HST. This comes and supports Nala’s medical care at the same time.
Caroline has set up a GoFundMe page looking for donations to help pay for the dog. She was shocked to see people providing help and support across Canada and Northern Ontario. They raised over $ 4,100. The money will just be enough to buy the puppy and provide Nala with her much-needed medical assistance
“People give because it’s a way to thank him for what he’s done,” she said.
The Lalondes say they are forever grateful to everyone for the financial help and can’t wait to welcome their four-legged friend home.
“Big thanks to the community for their support and it’s really amazing,” concluded Eric. “We didn’t expect that.”