CRESTVIEW — This story began with one wounded warrior and his wife's desire to help another wounded warrior by donating their puppy to become a service dog.
On Friday, David McCaulla, a veteran from Mississippi, met Crestview residents Jennifer and Benjamin Garcia, who donated a Dogo Argentinian puppy that will be McCaulla's service dog.
After joining Operation Heal Our Patriots (OHOP), a religious organization centered around healing for wounded veterans and their spouses, Benjamin, a 14-year Army veteran, said he wanted to do something for other wounded warriors like himself.
"One thing I learned about being at OHOP is there's actually a lot of people out there that care about you, and a lot more people like us that are dealing with the same issues," Benjamin said. "I just want to pay it forward."
Jennifer began researching different organizations, and they decided to donate one of their puppies to become a service dog.
Benjamin said he knows from personal experience the positive effect these dogs can have on wounded veterans.
"These dogs are real special to me because they can touch your soul," Benjamin said. "...I think these dogs have a way of detecting when you have a flashback or go into a deep depression, and then they try to give you extra love."
Although it wasn't an immediate result, Jennifer was finally able to make contact through Facebook and found a veteran in need of a service dog.
McCaulla served in the Army Infantry for nine years and currently suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as well as back and leg issues.
The donation from the Garcia family comes after McCaulla had been searching for a service dog, and he said he was "very grateful" for the donation and company.
"The biggest thing with the service dogs is somebody's there with you all the time," McCaulla said.
Although McCaulla received the puppy Friday, the dog will go through training with Britnee Kinard, founder of the non-profit organization The SD Gunner Fund in Claxton, Georgia.
Kinard said she trains about 12 to 15 service dogs a year for wounded warriors and special-needs children.
The puppy donated by the Garcia family will go through 8 to 18 months worth of training, depending on the dog's capabilities.
Kinard said she was glad that Jennifer reached out to her about donating this rare breed to become a service dog.
"We're excited to take on this challenge of learning and training this breed, and really helping try to make her wish come true because she really wants this dog to be a service dog," Kinard said.
McCaulla will be present for part of the training and plans to move closer to the training location.