FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A service dog graduated Saturday from his training at 'Paws for Purple Hearts' and was matched with the veteran he will be helping through day-to-day life.
"He's going to be able to help me interrupt disruptive behaviors, so when I get really anxious, he'll be able to apply pressure to me or even just nudge me, and let me know like 'hey get out of that mindset,'" said Katie Ramsey, U.S. Air Force veteran.
Over the past two weeks, Veteran Katie Ramsey and her battle buddy Ralph have been intensively training on how to work together. One aspect is being tethered for an entire week, 24 hours a day, which means she can't let go of his leash except for showering. Now she is ready to integrate him into her family.
"When you're tethered together, it's just you and the dog so I'm most excited to share Ralph with my girls and to share my girls with Ralph," she said.
Ramsey says they had get to know each other because Ralph has his own personality just like her.
"One of the questions that we got asked at the very very end was 'do we think we're a good match?' Honestly, I think we are the same person but he is in dog form," she said.
Building a bond, that could last a life time, Rebecca Beltran with Paws for Purple Hearts says training a service dog is a lot of hard work for everyone but this graduation is a culmination and celebration of all that hard work.
"We're super excited for our service member, this is going to be a great help to her in life, we're excited for the dog, they finally get to have their forever battle buddy," Beltran said.
After two years of training, this service dog gets to go to his forever home. And two younger puppies who went through the intensive two week training with Ralph were in the audience, and will continue to train until they are ready to graduate.