“He has changed my life,” Fasnacht says of the 1-year-old mutt, whose name is shorthand for “combat engineer,” Fasnacht’ s Army job.
Sapper goes with him whenever he leaves his Silver Spring, Md., apartment, something he was terrified of doing until he got his canine companion in April.
Three combat tours and two Purple Hearts had left him in a state of hypervigilance, constantly scanning suburban streets
and trees for snipers. War had made him wary of crowds — and even of individuals who got a little too close.
“I’d just freak out, getting really uneasy,” he says. “But not anymore.” The speckled dog calms Fasnacht’s anxieties and keeps them from mushrooming into panic attacks. Part bodyguard, part therapist, Sapper also serves as an extra set of eyes
“I’ve lost some of my hearing, but Sapper alerts me if someone is coming up behind me,” he says. When Fasnacht is sleeping, the dog will wake him from a nightmare by licking his face.