JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Usually what comes to mind when people think about dogs are your family pet, but there are some dogs out there that go beyond the norm. Retired Marine Cpl. Christopher Owens was fortunate enough to receive one of his own special animals to help battle his illness and injuries.
Owens welcomed his new friend, Samaria, a 22-month old black Labrador Retriever, during a ceremony Jan. 9, 2014, at the Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston on Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station.
Samaria was brought into the Carolina Canines for Service program from Summerville, S.C. She trained at the NCBC for more than a year to become a highly trained companion dog, and can now open doors, load and unload laundry and obey numerous other commands, enabling her owner to live a much fuller life.
"I've only been with her a week and she has changed me already," said Owens. "It's wonderful."
Owens believes Samaria will help him with his mobility and serve him faithfully as his family's watchdog. Owens hopes to gain a greater sense of independence and now looks hopefully to the future.
"My wife has noticed a change in my attitude since I've been working with Samaria," said Owens. "I've been more confident. I feel much safer."
Owens enlisted in the Marine Corps in Oct. 2007 as an amphibious assault crew chief and attended boot camp in Parris Island, S.C. He was stationed briefly at Camp Pendleton, but spent the majority of his service at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
He cites his best experiences in the Marine Corps as working and serving alongside his fellow Marines in 3rd Platoon Delta Company. He also credits the Wounded Warrior Battalion East as another highlight in his military career. The Wounded Warrior Battalion is dedicated to taking care of wounded, ill and injured Marines and their families as they proceed through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process.
And Owens, is now moving forward ... but it wouldn't be possible without the help of Samaria and the CCFS.
CCFS is a national program that understands the instinctive bond dogs have with their human counterparts, and provides disabled veterans with quality, trained service dogs. The dogs, many of which are rescued from local animal shelters, are trained by military prisoners at the NCBC.
The program is designed to strengthen veterans with disabilities and enable them to achieve greater independence and enhanced quality of life through the services of specially trained dogs.
"The goal is to overcome my illness and injuries," said Owens. "Samaria will be the key to that."