After suffering serious injuries in Iraq in 2005, former Army major Chuck
Ziegenfuss ’97 said he was “teetering on the brink” when a service dog saved his life.
That dog, Major, died in 2011 while Chuck was serving Afghanistan.
“When I came home, I realized just how much of a hole that left in my life,” he said. He raised and trained a new dog, Halia—Hawaiian for “memory of a loved one,” and learned that the biggest challenge of training is getting the right dog. “I aim
to change that,” he said.
Permanently disabled after 22 years in the Army, Chuck is now breeding Labrador retrievers specifically for traits that make good service dogs and specifically for pairing with wounded veterans and first responders.
“There are very long waiting lists of these heroes who need a service dog, but not just any dogs can be trained,” he said. “Dogs need the aptitude, focus, and temperament to do the work, and a big part of that comes through breeding.”
Through Hero Labradors, his nonprofit organization based in Decatur, Texas, he provides dogs free of charge to training programs that will, in turn, pair the dogs at no charge with veterans and first responders. More information is available on the
Hero Labradors website.