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Training Zipper is healing experience for trainer

Serving Those Who Serve
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DENVER -- Zipper's trainer, 29-year-old Mike Connors, joined the training staff at Freedom Service Dogs of America in January.

He's one of seven full-time trainers.

"After the Army I was looking for something I could still do that would help people and training service dogs fills both of those voids," he said.

Right now, Connors is Zipper's full-time trainer, getting down the basics.

"For his age he knows a lot more that he probably should, and sometimes uses that to his advantage which is fascinating to see," Connors said.

Connors is confident Zipper will eventually be a great service dog. He knows the powerful healing effect a dog can have on a veteran.

Connors knows this because he has post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his 10 years as an Iraqi War veteran.

"One of the things I struggle with the most is just going into public, into different situations I'm not comfortable going into anymore," Connors said.

Training Zipper and helping other vets with PTSD is very therapeutic for Connors.

Connors knows Zipper will move on to new trainers, and eventually a new owner.

"Zipper is going to go to someone at some point and really be able to help them, makes it easier," he said.

Always looking out for the other guy, something Connors does and something Zipper will do.

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