Her senses were always up, in a constant state of fight or flight, ever since that day in May of 2012. Tiffany Baker, an Army National Guard soldier, was traveling in a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle while stationed in Afghanistan when it hit a 250-pound IED. The bomb was so powerful, it rolled the heavily-enforced vehicle.
Baker sustained major physical injuries, requiring four hip surgeries the next year. She also suffered a traumatic brain injury because of the attack. “I was taking 17 medications between being overseas and then coming back,” says Baker. She was frequently going to the VA, seeing a counselor, psychiatrists, and psychologists. “They were constantly giving me medications.” She was feeling more and more isolated.
In February 2015, Baker medically retired, saying goodbye to her unit, the 1157 Transportation Company. That same year, she met Buddy through K9s For Warriors.
Buddy had been badly abused and neglected by his owner. Before being rescued, he was found tied to a tree without any food or water. “K9s For Warriors is great at pairing the dog with veterans,” says Baker. She explains that Buddy always covers her back. He’s “got her 6”, and he creates a safe barrier between her and other people, allowing her to function in public.
-Tiffany Baker, K9s For Warrior graduate and advocate
Baker was so taken with Buddy and the K9s For Warriors program that she got involved in supporting the PAWS (Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members) Act of 2017 that got the VA on board with service dogs helping veterans. The bill directs the VA to carry out a five-year pilot program, providing grant funding to qualifying nonprofits that provide service dogs to military members or veterans who suffer from PTSD after they finalize other traditional treatments.
Baker actually spoke at a press conference in support of the act. “Going into the public was very difficult,” says Baker. “I’m always watching over my back.”
But Buddy has helped Baker to get back out into the public. Tiffany graduated this past May from Waukesha County Technical College with a degree in business management, and an emphasis in social media marketing. As Baker puts it, she is like every other broken person whose service dog keeps them going. She says, “I need to get out of bed to take care of him.”
The two rescued each other.