It was on Veteran's Day that the Nugget first met Sgt. Michael Gaskell. Though Nugget has been identified as a chihuahua, I can't help but suspect she has a bit of the rare xolo dog in her, if not Italian greyhound.
Michael had served in the Marines in both Desert Storm and Iraq. He sustained numerous back, neck, and knee injuries, and traumatic brain injury, from an IED explosion that threw him out of his gunner's position. He still has headaches, blurry vision, and post-trauma stress disorder.
He and Nugget came togther at the Veteran's Day celebration in Los Alamitos, California, where Pets for Vets and the Animal Advocates Alliance brought dogs for adoption by veterans.
Two-year-old Nugget had herself been traumatized by aformer owner. She'd been abandoned in a shelter where she was terriified, cowered in her kennel, and was severely malnourished.
Nowadays Michael is frequently seen with a smile. He hopes every veteran who can do so will adopt a rescue dog. "They have gone through what we have gone through," he says. "If we can heal, they can heal."