Local Veteran Thankful For Service Dog … ‘Archi Has Changed My Life’

From left, ADW Dog Trainer Dion Silva with Gilda (service dog in training), ADW Veterans Liaison/Warrior Canine Connection Coordinator Chloe Davis-Masters and Vietnam era veteran David Apple with his service dog Archi during an interview Friday at the Los Alamos Daily Post. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos Daily Post

The special bond that has developed between a Vietnam era veteran and a dog named Archimedes, Archi for short, has by all accounts been remarkable.

“I had some ghosts in my head for 47 years and last summer decided to do something about it,” David Apple said during an interview Friday at the Los Alamos Daily Post. “I’m a disabled vet and one of my doctors recommended I look into getting a service dog.”

Apple contacted Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW) in Santa Fe and following an assessment and training process, was paired with Archi in August.

“Archi is my angel, my good spirit and a really good sport,” Apple said. “Archi and I have been in sight of each other ever since I got him on Aug. 28 … he goes to work with me … he goes everywhere with me … he sleeps with me.”

He has awakened from bad dreams and found comfort in seeing his forearm held protectively between Archi’s front paws.

Apple is an engineer who worked at Los Alamos County in the Public Work Department from 2004 to 2010, then went to work as a field construction engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is retiring Dec. 6.

Apple said he is so thankful for his new lease on life, that he is now committed to volunteer with ADW in whatever way he can to help to give back.

It takes about $35,000 annually to train an assistance dog, and Archi was provided through a DOD grant, Apple said.

ADW is the only agency in New Mexico accredited by Assistance Dogs International, which sets standards for assistance dog training organizations, said ADW Veterans Liaison/Warrior Canine Connection Coordinator Chloe Davis-Masters. She has been involved with assistance dogs since 2001 when she was 6-years-old. She explained that she joined a student program with the organization and ADW founder Jill Felice took her under her wing. She returned as a fulltime employee about three years ago.

“I’ve been professionally training dogs for about eight years,” she said. “The level of support David has shown this project is admirable.”

Davis-Masters helped train Dion Silva with his first dog. Silva is the regional president for Enterprise Bank & Trust in Santa Fe and has volunteered with ADW as a puppy trainer and foster parent to service dogs for the last two years. He trained Archi and explained that Archi is named after “Archimedes” of Syracuse – the Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer.

Dion said he welcomes the periodic photos Apple sends him of the two of them doing various activities including celebrating Archi’s second birthday Nov. 6 with a special party.

“The joy you get in seeing these dogs go out and do great things … it’s very rewarding,” Silva said.

AWD’s compassionate training approach facilitates the deepest possible bond between humans and animals, and models best practices in social-relationship interactions. The dogs are trained with around 100 mobility commands and using primarily positive reinforcement leads the dogs to love to work, Davis-Masters said.

ADW places service dogs with client recipients requiring individual and family support for mobility impairments, autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, seizure disorders, diabetes, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders, she said.

From puppy selection through training and matching with a client, the focus is on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the dogs, Davis-Masters explained. They complete one of the most demanding fields of dog training to serve clients who have disabilities. Throughout the training and placement process, ADW emphasizes building heartfelt relationships between dogs and people. These profound relationships sustain both human and dog partners in their lifelong journey together.

For more information about the organization, to inquire about getting a dog or to volunteer or make a donation, visit assistancedogsofthewest.org.

Service dog Archi prepares to go for a ride with his owner David Apple. Courtesy photo

David Apple had a special trailer made for his service dog Archi so they can take motorcycle rides together. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Service dog Archi in his custom made trailer. Courtesy photo

Service dog Archi keeps a comforting paw on his owner David Apple’s toe. Courtesy photo

David Apple and his service dog Archi complete a fundraising walk Sept. 15 in Chicago. Courtesy photo

David Apple and his service dog Archi celebrating Archi’s second birthday Nov. 6. Courtesy photo