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Watch DJ & Axel's story!

Donald, also known as DJ, is from Michigan. DJ entered the Army in 2003 and left in 2011. He was an MP and for five years worked in the K-9 unit. DJ was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and later Afghanistan and earned multiple medals for his service.

DJ absolutely loves dogs, but especially big dogs. He missed the companionship of his K-9 partner, Dino, and needed another partner after returning to civilian life, trying to navigate in a new world, while dealing with the invisible battle scars that remained with him.


DJ never felt safer than when he was with his K-9 partner and found that the poem “Guardians of the Night” described his relationship with Dino… “Trust in me my friend for I am your comrade. I will protect you with my last breath when all others have left you and the loneliness of the night closes in, I will be at your side.”

DJ contacted Paws for Heroes and asked for a dog just like his former dog, Dino. Paws for Heroes was able to find a dog that measured up to DJ’s standards. At 88 pounds, Axel was a huge dog, but he was also very gentle and very loving. And smart!  When Axel was presented to DJ, his wife, Cathi, was so happy to see the joy on her husband’s face, saying, “I haven’t seen him beam like that since the birth of our children. Since Axel has arrived, he hasn’t stopped smiling.”

DJ's wife Cathi said Axel has been a godsend in helping DJ with his PTSD.  Cathi said Axel has given her family back the husband and father they thought they lost. 

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