For one veteran coping with PTSD and depression, his saving grace came in the form of a one-eyed dog who had been previously abused. This is his story, in his own words.
My name is Matthew Goschke; I’m born and raised in Rochester, New York. I’ve lived here my whole life besides my experiences with the military. I currently run security for the City of Rochester, loss prevention for The Home Depot and am pursuing my paramedic degree. After my military service I found integrating back into civilian life a lot more difficult then I had anticipated.
Light at the end of a “very dark” road
I was discharged from the Army honorably for PTSD and depression, which are results of my military time in service. It’s a terrible thing to have to deal with and the road I was on was a very dark one. I felt as if no one truly understood what I was going through. I started missing sleep, social life and work because of what was going on in my mind.
A good friend of mine recommended possibly getting a pet as a companion to help take my mind off things. I took her advice and went to my local shelter in Rochester. At this time not only was I dealing with my medical issues, I was going through a terrible divorce where I pretty much lost everything.
Since my adoption my life has done a complete 360. I couldn’t be happier. I was told by my grandmother “everything happens for a reason;” this is an exact example of that.
People are sometimes weirded out by the connection my dog and I have. I just know it’s the realest thing I’ve ever felt. Might not make sense because I can’t put a word on it, but bear with me here!
A dream fulfilled, then PTSD and depression
I joined the military in 2007 as a diver, but re-classed to what was my life long dream: to be a military police officer. I was honorably discharged from the Army for PTSD and depression due to events during my time of service. Since I can remember, the only thing I’ve ever wanted was to serve my country and be in the armed forces. I followed my dream.
Finding it hard to cope with my PTSD and depression, I had been to countless doctors and put on countless meds that I couldn’t even spell to save my life. Nothing seemed to work at all. After a friend of mine put the idea out there about a pet, I thought: it couldn’t hurt; I had tried it all.
I went to the Lollypop Farm shelter in Rochester. When I arrived it was the first time I had heard of the Pets for Patriots program and thought it would be great!
A one-eyed dog becomes a “symbol of hope”
Words cannot express how much my dog has changed my life. I shouldn’t say changed – I should say SAVED.
I saw no good end in sight until I met Tia, who I renamed Eli (she didn’t seem to mind). She was in a bad spot just as I was: she was abused, starved, made to fight, had scars, lost her eye and even was electrocuted. She was a symbol hope for me.
This dog had been through all of these unthinkable events and was still as happy as could be. She is my motivation. My CURE. My life.
She is now my ESA (Emotional Support Animal). I’m off virtually all medications and Eli is actually prescribed to me by my doctor. She is my miracle.
She’s extremely funny; with only one eye she constantly runs into things and chases her tail (though only from one side). She’s gentle, protective, loyal, trustworthy and everything I wish I can be and display the rest of my life.
a>When asked what he would tell other veterans who might be thinking about adopting a last-chance pet through Pets for Patriots, Matthew says, “Simply to DO IT!”
In what ways has your pet been your personal miracle?
All rescue stories are great, but then one like this comes along and it just leaves you in awe. Matthew, thank for first and foremost for your service to our country, but also for sharing your story. THIS is the kind of thing that other veterans suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues need to hear. There is hope, and you my dear are proof of that. Your story is truly inspiring – and both you and Eli are lucky to have each other. It says a lot about a person’s character to adopt a pet that comes from a past such as Eli’s, it takes a big heart – and trust me when I say, Eli realizes this. Animals realize when you “save” them, and they repay you by offering you an undying loyalty and friendship – just as Eli has done for you Matthew. You two are such a perfect match, may you have many happy years ahead!
A truly wonderful story. I’m glad Eli has helped you as much as you have helped her. My 3 legged dog helped me get through my husband’s deployment (he is an Army Military Police). My pup and stories like yours are what motivate me to get through my exams in veterinary school while my husband is stationed 8 hours away. Thank you for your service and for saving Eli; the world needs more people like you.
God bless you Matthew and thank you for your service and adopting Eli. You both saved each other.
Not only is your story and recovery due to the new love of your life Eli, beautiful, Matthew, but the stories too of many who have replied here are heart warming. When I suffered PTSD about 15 years past, the cats I loved as indoor companions were the only reasons for me to not commit suicide. I’ve been grateful that my manner of rising above the trauma was aided by my writing about the horror suffocating me. In writing daily about PTSD I somehow was able to rise above it, making it finally go away. Ever grateful though for the cats I continue to love as they love and respond to me in more caring and understanding manners than have many human friends, lovers. May you and the others here continue your recovery in life as you realize that love is all there is! Blessings to all.
Thank you beyond words for all of your service to our country. You are truly appreciated. I have two rescue dogs and they are the loves of my life. Both of them had very rough beginings and I not only rescued them….they DEFINATELY RESCUED ME RIGHT BACK!(: Their unconditional love and kindness is beyond words. They give me sooooo much love, understanding and compassion that I never thought was possible. Your Miss Baby Girl Eli is beautiful and truly blessed to have you as her “proud papa.” Thank God you are the person who got to adopt her. What a true gift for both of you! All our best: Maryanna, Laddy and Belle.
My border collie, Peggysue, can tell when I am about to have an ‘event’ from service in the USMC, and will not leave my side. She nudges me and whimpers until I take a med and waits to see if I am OK.
She truly is an amazing grace. I have been able to reduce the medication I take, and so much more.
Thank you your service Matthew,
Matt – I’m glad Eli helps you. I’m the exact opposite – I can’t stand the destruction, or the fur, or the pee or crap or vomit. I hate having animals in the house – it gets messy and I can’t focus. So, I’m happy that you have one of those little four legged morons to help you. Happy your friend buddy. I’m here if you ever need me.
Thank you for sharing your information. I was recently featured in the NY Times because of my service dog, Devon. He is a golden retriever and has been the “wonder drug” of my recovery from being affected by PTSD as a result of combat trauma. I hope you have a chance to read the article.
Mathew, a dog is the best friend you can have. They are the most wonderful, loving thing. They will listen and love you if you treat them well. I think God makes everything for a reason and I am glad that you were able to recover from your depression. Keep in mind that life is only 1, and that despite your ups and downs, you should always keep a positive attitude. Thanks for servicing our country and hope all goes well for you and Eli.
God Bless you both!! I have six dogs … 4 are rescues and they have been my ‘saving grace’ while have 3 boys serving in the military … through boot camp and deployments, my dogs have licked my tears and healed my heart … Godspeed …
God Bless you and Eli. I too have a one eyed dog, her name is “One-eyed July”, my named her. She was born that way and I helped her into this world and will be there to help her out. I love her she is so funny, she also runs into things. She helps me with my Multiple Sclerosis.
First of all Thank you for your service! and thanks so much for sharing your story! I also have complex PTSD and rescued a Dachsund at the advice of my therapist. I too no longer need my meds on a daily basis. It is truly amazing how an animal can make you feel worthy and loved! I wish the best to you and your beloved Eli always! I cherish my Lil Bit everyday and say thank you for all the good things in my life………
Ditto to all of the comments made!! I’ve never served but suffer from PTSD too among other things!! I’ve tried several times to commit suicide and was trying my hardest to just give up on life, when my ol man brought home my Lilly dog! Between her and my granddaughter who was born two weeks later they saved me!!! I no longer want to give up I found new hope in life!! Now they are both 3 yrs old and I can not think of my life without them!!! I am very happy you and Eli found eachother!!!! And THANK YOU for your service and sacrifice to keep this country and all of us safe!!!!
Mathew your story is simply inspiring. Dogs are the only living beings that love you to death without asking for anything, except for food and belly rubs:) It is touching to hear how you and Eli are a perfect match! You gave this beautiful girl another chance and vise versa. I am located in Ft.Hood and there are countless and countless of “risk breed” dogs being put to sleep because Nobody wants them and they are banned by most apartment complexes….So in reality,you saved her life too! Thank you for serving our country. I wish you two the best.
If people are weirded out by your connection with your dog then they are the ones that are weird. I have 6 Pits and people think that I am weird (which could be true but not because of my dogs) they ask me why Pit Bulls, I say because there is no other dog breed that I know of that connects with a human like them. They are very intuitive to your emotions and feelings…if you are sad or depressed they come up and tell you that everything is going to be ok, if you are angry, they come a put a hand on your knee or arm and tell you to calm down, if you are happy, they run around in circles celebrating your joy. I am so glad that you have Eli, she saved you like you saved her. Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for adopting Eli. God Bless you both!
After five years of a marriage that went from what I had thought was near perfect to divorce I was in a very fragile state emotionally. After reading Matthew’s story I believe I may have also had symptoms of PTSD. That and arthritis in my back made it impossible to continue working. Suddenly I was alone and a mess. Since my marriage I’d wanted a dog but my husband refused. A month after he left me I made the rounds of the shelters and pounds in my area and finally found Pippen. His family had dropped him off for I have no idea what reason the day before I hit the pound for the second time. I was no longer alone, something I’d felt since when I was married.
God bless our canine companions! My prayers and best wishes go out to you, Matthew and your sweet Eli. You’ve saved each other and that is absolutely awesome.
Matthew I wish you the very best & Miss Eli too. She’s beautiful. This is what I call another way of supporting our troops. Thank you for your service, & GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS.
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