HUMANS OF THE U: NICHOLE RANUIO

“Training a service dog is a big commitment. Not only do you have to take food, water, treats, toys and other supplies with you everywhere, but you’re always training, and people stop you all the time, so quick trips take much longer.

It’s hard to explain what I get out of it emotionally, but I think I enjoy what the veterans get out of it so much more and seeing the life changes that occur for them. I’ll never forget when the first service dog my husband and I trained met his veteran. We were at the airport to meet our veteran. We saw him coming around the corner in his wheelchair, and he went straight to his dog, Ares (who he named after the God of War), and said, ‘I’ve been waiting a really long time for you,’ and for a few minutes, the pair were so connected they weren’t even aware of the rest of us around them. We had trained Ares for about six months, but once he was with his veteran, it was like we’d never talked to that dog in our lives because the two bonded instantly. Ares wouldn’t even come take a picture with me without his veteran.”

You can follow Labs for Liberty (@labsforliberty) and the dogs Nichole has trained: @ares_the_servicedog and @lyon_the_servicedog

— Nichole Ranuio, with @lyon_the_servicedog, nursing student, class of 2018

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.