Camp Pendleton host a ceremony to donate a service puppy to 16-year old Chris Simpson at the Headquarters and Support Battalion building here, May 18, 2016.
Chris is the son of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bryan Simpson, the 62-area Officer in Charge at Camp Pendleton.
One year ago, while Chris was undergoing a heart transplant surgery and recovery, the puppy's mother, Zoe, was part of a dog therapy program at the hospital in Seattle.
May 18, 2016 - U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton hosted a ceremony to donate a service puppy to 16-year old Chris Simpson, who is the son of a Camp Pendleton Marine. James and Catherine Skoor donated the puppy after they met Chris and his family while volunteering in a dog therapy program at the Seattle Children's Medical Hospital. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Keenan Zelazoski)
“Zoe helped Chris get through a difficult part of his life,” said Shannon Simpson, Chris's Mother. “He would see Zoe on a weekly basis and Zoe was his incentive to make it to the next week each time.”
According to Simpson, Chris's relationship with Zoe was an integral part of his recovery and they formed a very special bond during their time together.
“It was an instant connection when Zoe met Chris,” said James Skoor, a volunteer at the Seattle Children's Medical and one of Zoe's handlers. “He was an incredible sick little boy, and enduring three heart transplants over 16 years takes a tremendous toll on him. Chris fell in love with our dog Zoe, and it didn't matter how sick Chris was at the time, he would find the strength to come down and spend time with Zoe.”
According to Skoor, as soon as he found out they could donate a service dog; they knew he had to have one. That is when they had the idea to have Zoe mother a little of puppies with the intention of giving one to Chris.
The Shiloh Shepard puppy will receive service dog training at Wounded Warrior Battalion-West to better assist Chris in the future.
“Part of Chris's condition is that he usually wears a mask to prevent from getting sick,” said Simpson. “Potato will be able to help break that barrier and provide a way for people to initiate conversation with him.”
Chris added that he really appreciated his time with Zoe and is thrilled to move forward and raise Zoe's puppy, Potato.
By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Keenan Zelazoski
Provided through DVIDS
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