Tony and his Service Dog Cinch: A Winning Team

How Tony Met His Service Dog, Cinch

Tony is a Navy veteran who lives in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Like many other veterans, he would benefit from a service dog. The facility best able to help him was in San Antonio, TX. The two cities are more than 1,500 miles apart. The long distance was just the first obstacle. Airfare would be expensive – and traveling with an animal is a challenge in itself.

Angel Wings for Veterans helped Tony fly over all of these problems. Assistance with travel was just the beginning. They made sure that his ticket stated there would be a service dog with him on the return flight. On top of that, they called TSA to make sure Tony and his dog wouldn’t face difficulties in the security line. “From when they first contacted me,” Tony said, “they were outstanding.”

Once in Texas, Tony met his service dog, Cinch. This unique name comes from rodeo, where bucking broncos and wild bulls wear a strap called a “cinch.” Cinch is a cross between a Catahoua (also known as a “leopard dog” for the irregular spots on his fur) and a Blue Lacy. Both bloodlines are bred for the hunt, or for herding livestock – jobs that call for a particularly smart dog.

At the young age of 20 months, Cinch is the picture of perceptive. He’s “a good judge of character,” to the point of standing in front of Tony out of defense. He sleeps next to Tony in case of a nightmare. When that happens, Cinch will wake Tony up and comfort him. And have dog, will travel: Tony and Cinch go everywhere together. In the event that Tony stops suddenly, Cinch will nudge him away from the stressful situation.

As with most service dogs, Cinch, the service dog, wears a special vest. As a tribute to Tony’s service in the Navy, the vest is in hues of blue and sports the Navy logo. “When he’s wearing the vest, he knows it’s time to work.” Tony says. When Cinch is on duty, he’s loving but cautious. When the vest comes off, Cinch gets playful. “Sometimes he’ll jump on you when you’re sitting down,” said Tony, “like he’s a 40-pound lapdog.”

Tony describes his life with Cinch like the closest friendship possible. The bond reminds him of how it was in the military, where “someone always has your back.”

Life can seem like a tough competition sometimes. With the right team, winning is still possible. Angel Wings for Veterans was able to bring Tony and Cinch together, a team like none other. To use Tony’s words: “Everyone came out a winner.”

The Mission:

Tony came to visit today; Cinch was with him. Writing the story was eye-opening. Experiencing the story was – in the truest sense of the word – unforgettable.