Matisse Francois LeClerc — Service

Charity Partner: Paws and Stripes
Location: Kansas City, Missouri

I am a disabled United States Marshal and 3 tour veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. I suffer from PTSD and have trained Matisse as my service dog. His specific ADA purpose is:
1) Tactile Stimulation – His gentle and happy demeanor, along with his soft hypoallergenic coat, Matisse brings instant comfort and peace to me in times of need.
2) Enhanced Security – Although Matisse is small, he assists me with my own personal security. He is aware of the situations around us and alerts me to uncomfortable situations. As I travel providing keynote speaking, training and crisis intervention work for police and military personnel, I enter many hotels and locations. Matisse enters my hotel rooms and other locations to lets me know that my area of operations is safe, thereby reducing my anxiety and hyper-awareness issues.

As an added benefit, we have also used Matisse in disaster and crisis events. The first time we noticed this talent was when we were called to respond to Virginia Tech after the shooting on campus in April 2007. There, he was able to provide comfort to those who had been affected on that terrible day. He has gone on to work at Hurricane Katrina, Joplin, MO, and many other locations across the Nation. Each time he brings joy and comfort to those in need.

In July 2015, Matisse was the focus of a National Conference, where I was allowed to speak about the benefits of using dogs as service associates and during crisis and disaster events.

My greatest pain is knowing that one day my friend, my associate and my favorite little buddy will one day leave my side in death. Until then, I will always adore him and hope only to bring him the recognition he and other dogs deserve for the faithful companionship and selfless duty. Thankfully, the Havanese breed is a hardy one and I look forward to many more years of joy with him.

Thank you for honoring these great dogs and bringing awareness to the needs of our veterans and warriors. I hope I can one day train dogs for others who suffer from PTSD and TBI.

“May we never forget those who sacrifice for our Freedom” – Quote by Jerry Peters

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