Bill Cambell is an Iraq War veteran that lives in Mason County, Washington. When he was younger, he spent close to two decades working for the local government as a biologist. Overall, he was with the National Guard for almost 10 years. When the Iraq War began, Campbell decided to re-enlist. As a result, he was deployed I 2004 as an Army National Guard Sergeant. It was his job to manage security at an operation base for the 81st Brigade Combat Team. In 2008, Bill Campbell, was making a special visit to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York. With Campbell, was his Labrador Retriever named Pax. However, the dog left everyone stunned when he spotted an inmate and decided to take off towards her.
During his time at Iraq, Campbell found himself in an extremely dangerous position. He experienced numerous explosions and suffered two concussions as a result.In November 2004, he was involved in a car bomb attack outside the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The blast had left Campbell with shrapnel wounds on his hand. On the bright side, the U.S military awarded him with a Purple Heart. However, the medal wasn’t the only thing the sergeant left the war with…
When Campbell had returned home from the war, he was absolutely changed. His experience in tough combat had left him with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury. His shrapnel wound also caused nerve damage. As a result, the military categorized him as 100 percent disabled.His injuries left him with memory loss and a big phobia of crowds. He suffered from nightmares and was prone to panic attacks. As a result of this, he told The Olympian, “I was pretty much housebound.”
The veteran needed help and desperately. His psychologist suggested looking into getting a service dog. He explained, “My psychologist wanted me to look for more ways to get out. Taking care of a dog forces you to get out and take him for walks. This is how Pax the Labrador came into Campbell’s life. The dog had received training his whole life in order to assist his new owner through everyday life. And it didn’t take long for effects of the animal’s skills to be felt.
Pax’s main priority was to make Campbell feel safe. With this in mind, Pax was right by his side when they were out in public. When Campbell awoke from night terror as he often did, the dog was there to let him know he was home and safe. With Pax, Campbell was given a new life. Because of this, he was very set on showing his gratitude to the people who had trained the dog in the first place. So, in 2008, Campbell paid a visit to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York state.
Old Stomping Grounds
As soon as Pax entered the prison, Pax became noticeably excited. He knew that this was the place where he had spent many years with his loving trainers. He hadn’t been back to facility since he was adopted by Bill, and so he was extremely eager to see and roam is old stomping grounds. Little did he know, he was about to be reunited with one of the biggest influences of his life.
Puppes Behind Bars
Pax had been trained by 27 female inmates at Bedford Hills as part of the Dog Tase program, run by Puppies Behind Bars. This organization was a non-profit that raised dogs to support the needs of veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his time there, it was one inmate especially who took responsibility of Pax. He lived in their cell and assisted them with their rehabilitation. Through this program, they learned the importance of responsibility and compassion for others.
When Pax returned to the prison, it was unknown how he would react. However, as soon as he saw one inmate in particular, he took off running from Campbell’s side and sprinted to greet her. This woman ran to meet the dog before collapsing on the ground from the force of Pax’s kisses.
This inmate was Laurie Kellogg, the person who had raised Pax since he was a puppy. Kellogg, was serving a murder sentence, and received the dog only three weeks after the death of her father. She said that his companionship assisted her through her inhibiting grief. Kellogg was absolutely devastated in 2007, when Pax was ready to go into service. Although she was able to communicate with Campbell and received updates on the dog’s progress, nothing could beat reuniting with him in person.
Following the meeting, Kellogg invited Campbell to one of the training sessions for Puppies Behind Bars. The inmates revealed how they teach the dogs to fetch and respond to emergency situations. Kellogg spoke fondly about the program, and shared how much it meant to her. She explained, “I knew when they told me he was going to go into PTSD training that he would make somebody feel the sense of freedom that he gave me. He gave me back pieces of myself that I forgot even existed.