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A Veteran’s Best Friend: From Farm Dog To Service Dog, Max Is A Life Saver For Tony Blakley

By Jackie Seabolt
Enterprise Record

Davie resident Tony Blakley is a military veteran and business owner who never knew the impact a four-footed friend would have on his life.
After dealing with some health issues, including cancer, Blakley found himself left with memory problems and difficulty walking. He began calling organizations, including those for veterans, to inquire about a service dog that could assist him.
“There were organizations that would provide dogs to a veteran, but with all kinds of restrictions; like a waiting time of one to three years, or making you get rid of any other dogs in your house.”
That last restriction wasn't one Blakley was willing to comply with. His four-year-old German short hair pointer, Max, wasn't going anywhere.
That's when Blakley discovered Paws 4 Soldiers, a Kannapolis based organization that helps veterans find and train the right service dog for their needs.
Blakley contacted Paws' founder, Barbara Earnhardt and told her of his needs. Blakley said that within a week Earnhardt scheduled an appointment with him and agreed to test Max to see if he was a good candidate for training to become Blakley's service dog. Max passed with flying colors and training was arranged to begin as soon as possible.
“That's when I realized Max could take care of me,” Blakley says as he …