FRANKLINTON, La. (WAFB) - It was a cold, winter day in the small town of Franklinton in rural Washington Parish. On Dec. 4, 2006, Deputy Jacob Walker, 24, responded to a domestic call that quickly turned deadly.
“We got into what we call a ‘firefight.’ It was a shootout. The other officer was struck one time. She did not survive. I was struck ten times. I happened to survive and the suspect did not,” said Walker.
Walker was hospitalized for 20 days.
“I came home December 24. Mid-January, I was back to work,” said Walker. “I don’t even know what PTSD is at this point and even if I did, I’m certainly not ready to tell somebody that I have something wrong with me. I’m the guy that got shot ten times. I’m still around. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
After ten years, Walker was ready to admit he was living that fateful day over and over again.
“I have severe PTSD and it’s tacked on with a very bad case of survivor’s guilt and depression and anxiety,” said Walker.
Walker is no longer in law enforcement, but a loud noise or something as simple as his wife getting up from bed takes him back to the shooting. Fast forward to April of 2019 when a Baton Rouge Police officer found a dog tied to a tree in a vacant lot. The officer took the dog to Companion Animal Alliance (CAA), then fostered the dog.
A few weeks later, Walker reached out to Jesse Walls and his non-profit organization, Louisiana Warriors Unleashed.
“We provide service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs to veterans and to first responders who suffer from anxiety and depression, PTSD, and other emotional and psychological conditions,” said Walls.
Before Walker’s first meeting with Bonnie, Walker says her pictures alone worked magic.
“I’ve used her pictures from the shelter here that are online and been calmed by the pictures,” he said.
Then, they set up a meeting with Bonnie and it was love at first sight. Bonnie will be trained to be Walker’s service dog. That’s where Camp Bow Wow comes in.
“The main purpose really is for Bonnie to be trained to retrieve the medication for Jacob if he needs it in the middle of the night or if he’s home alone and also to wake him up, to comfort him, whatever it may be during the night terrors while they’re happening,” said Camp Bow Wow Director Nina Wager. She’s already started her training.
“It’s not just a dog, it’s a partner, it’s a family member, immediately,” said Walker.
Bonnie is so much a party of Walker’s family that she’s serving a dual purpose. Walker’s 2 year old daughter is autistic and nonverbal. Her parents say it takes some work to calm her down after an episode.
“With Bonnie, it was about a quarter of an episode and it was done. It helped tremendously, immediately, with no training,” said Walker.
Among all the happiness, Walker admits he gets lost in thought when alone.
“How does one person get blessed so many times? And she’s a blessing,” said Walker. “She’s just pure love, just almost a person I can talk to without any judgment. She’s not going to tell me anything back, she’s just going to listen and lick my face.”
It's thanks to several people all put in the right place at the right time to give not only Bonnie a second chance, but Walker as well.
“What’s this dog already done to me?” asked Walker.
"Everything happens for a reason. I'm a firm believer of that," said Walls.
That reason has turned what started on a cold day into something leaving many with a feeling of warmth right there in that same small, rural parish.