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Veteran With PTSD Finds Relief, Companionship With Neglected Pit Bull

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- There's an old saying among dog owners that people don't pick their pet, the pet chooses the person.

Chad Fleming believes that was the case when he adopted Mikko from Ruff Start Rescue last week.

Having lived in a shelter for most of its life, the dog was terrified of people until the pit bull mix met his new owner.

In just six days, Fleming and Mikko have formed a strong bond.

"He's always got to be close," Fleming said. "He won't just sit over there."

If you know their story, it seems fate would always bring these two together.

"I knew immediately that there was a connection there between us," Fleming said.

His two tours of duty in Iraq left more than just physical injuries, he's had several surgeries on his knees after an explosion in his Humvee. It also left emotional trauma.

"I have a lot of PTSD and anxiety and dealing with that stuff has just been very hard," Fleming said.

The 2-year-old pit bull/bulldog mix had his own emotional scars of a forgotten dog left in an impound.

"When I saw him in the shelter, he was very shut down," Chris Maddox of Ruff Start Rescue said. "He was scared of people."

Maddox saved Mikko the day he was set to be put down. The dog was brought to Ruff Start Rescue and placed into a foster home.

"We were lucky we found him," Maddox said.

Within days, Fleming came along and changed the pup's life, taking a terrified dog and teaching him to trust.

"You've got to put time into them and that's what I was willing to do," Fleming said. "He knows it and he's been a big teddy bear ever since."

Meanwhile, the new pet made an impact on his owner.

"Getting a dog absolutely helps," Fleming said. "It takes a lot of anxiety away."

After all, companionship is about bringing out the best in each other.

Fleming's goal is to get Mikko to a place where he can be trained to be his service dog.

Ruff Start Rescue, the organization that brought the two together, is always looking for foster families to save dogs like Mikko.

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