Midas is a noble dog, who is wise beyond his doggie years. (Photo by Niko LaBarbera)
Juan Valdez answers questions about his dog Midas, and the influential role he’s had in overcoming PTSD.
Q: I honestly don’t know much about Midas or the award that he might be receiving, so if you could give me more background information on that please?
A: The Hero Dog Awards is an award show setup by the American humane society to recognize dogs who have gone above and beyond helping their community. There are several categories like service dog of the year and MWD of the year. Each dog is entered into one of these categories and tries to earn enough votes to win his or hers category. Once the dog wins his category the humane society donates to the nonprofit the dog represents. Afterwards the winners compete for hero dog of the year, and if the dog wins that, the humane society donates an even larger amount to the nonprofit.
Q: How did Midas get involved in the Dogs on Deployment, and what is it exactly?
A: Dogs on deployment has a mascot of the year contest every year; we entered it last year and won. The contest winner is decided by popular vote and an essay explaining what your goal is as mascot. Our goal is to stop veteran suicide, which is a pretty tough goal to reach, but I feel Midas stands for hope.
Q: What would you consider to be Midas’s greatest achievements?
A: I’ve been told by other veterans that by interacting with Midas they have not committed suicide. He’s been able to change people’s day around completely, and has been able to lift the veterans mood in the VETS office.
Juan Valdez is so proud of Midas, and himself for what they’ve overcome together. (Photo by Niko LaBarbera)
Q: What has Midas brought into your life?
A: Not only that but he has given me hope, I haven’t always been this successful, or determined about being a civilian. I also wasn’t so friendly towards other students; Midas, has made a change in me for the better. I’ve been able to not only reach out to veterans, but I’m reaching out to my fellow classmates as well. I love to see people succeed, and work to their full potential. Midas has made it possible for me to help motivate others. He’s also made it possible for me to accept the things I cannot change, and focus on the things I can.
Q: How did Midas come into your life?
A: My wife and I bought Midas after my deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. My wife started to notice a huge change in after Midas came into our life. I had been diagnosed a sixth time with PTSD and was struggling with being back in the U.S. Midas helped me focus on his training, which was a huge step, he taught me patience, and helped me become more empathetic towards others.