**Editors note: Resident Press is publishing this two part feature story on Shilo Schluterman and her service dog Javelin. You can read part one here.
Part 2 of 2
By Tammy Moore Teague
As Shilo Schluterman began researching K9s for Warriors, she initially felt unsure. “I wasn’t a dog person so I wasn’t sure it would be something for me,” she explained. Even so, she decided to go ahead with the application process.
K9s for Warriors is the nations largest provider of service dogs to military veterans. They help those who are suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or sexual trauma as a result of military service. This Florida based non-profit organization pairs up warriors with K9 service dogs. These dogs are pulled from shelters and screened by an evaluator. Candidates then undergo genetic testing, which reveals any predisposed hereditary conditions. The dog must be at least 30″ height in order to provide some physical assistance, if needed, to the handler. Lastly, they must be food motivated but not aggressive.
Fourteen months passed, but the wait was well worth it as she finally got to meet the lab/hound mix, Javelin. “When you are broken there are plenty of opportunities to say Lord, what are you teaching me?” Schluterman explained. God was about to reveal Himself in an amazing way! “The dog is a gift from God to me,” Schluterman explained. “He’s the physical embodiment that reminds me that God knew I needed a friend.”
Javie, as she lovingly calls him, was pulled from a shelter in South Carolina where he had been found on the side of the road. At the time he was only three months old. A year and a half later, he found his way into the arms of his new handler, and the pair have been inseparable ever since. In fact, it’s been three years to the date that the duo teamed up.
She recalled a terrifying event that happened one year after Javie came into her life. “He got bit by a rattlesnake. We rushed him to the vet, but they didn’t keep anti-venom on hand so they sent us to Northwest Arkansas.” Shaken, all Schluterman could do was pray that Javie would survive. God was again faithful, and Javie recovered. What’s more, K9s for Warriors paid for the costly treatment.
This K9 and Warrior team are extraordinary together. Javie alerts Schluterman to people coming towards her, thereby eliminating that anxiety. “I know he has my back,” she stated. He is trained to alert her by putting his paw on her, give her a nudge with his snout or even express a low moan. He will, on command, sit at her side, front or back and provide a barrier between her and the unknown. Javie’s training was sponsored by Bayer, who contributed $20,000. She demonstrated how he assists her when her weakened left side collapses. Amazingly, he stood near her in a broad stance, providing Schluterman with a study pull up. Her loyal companion goes everywhere with her.
Schluterman’s family have also embraced the loving K9. Husband, Walter Schluterman, plans to retire October 1 from the Air National Guard 188th Wing after 35 years of service. The Schluterman’s have four sons and two grandsons, Fisher and Kyson. Kaleb Schluterman, 24, is currently serving in Iraq. Korey Schluterman is married to Christina and reside in Huntington. He is employed as an Assistant Manager at Cv’s in Mansfield. Colton Schluterman is in tech school at Good Fellow Air Force Base in Texas. Kya, the youngest, attends Subiaco Academy. The family is active in their church, New Life in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
She continues to look to the future just as she has grown from her past. She is preparing for her last semester of school at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, AR. Schluterman will graduate in December with her degree in Psychology. Upon graduation, she plans to explore opportunities to assist refugees. “I’m praying about it,” she concluded. “I want to help women, children and families.” No matter what the future holds, no doubt Javie will be at her side each step of the way!
If you are interested in learning more about the K9s for Warrior program, or some of the corporations who help sponsor the training of these service dogs, you can visit their homepage.