A Life of Purpose
By Saul Gomez, CPD, AHR, CDP®
Director of Culture Assessments CCA Certified Coach
TI Verbatim Consulting Inc.
My name is Ryker – not like the prison – Ryker as in Star Trek’s #2 to Captain Jean Luc Picard, and boy, does the name fit! I’m an 83lb English Yellow Labrador Retriever, born on January 2, 2021, to a litter destined to become service animals to deserving Veterans and First Responders through Mutts With a Mission, a non-profit organization that raises, trains, certifies, and advocates for service animals, veterans and first responders. They leverage volunteer puppy raisers to get us through certification at which point we are assigned to a deserving veteran or first responder.
My human, Saul, is a combat veteran of 24 years of military service, and I’m his trusty #2! And let me tell you how lucky Saul is! It would have been two years before I would have crossed paths with him, if at all, but as fate would have it, he came across an opportunity to raise, train, and start my certification when I was only eight weeks old. He became a puppy raiser through a pilot program for veterans where I got to pick him as my puppy raiser and then keep him as my human – and we’ve been best friends ever since!
It’s taken my entire life so far to become a service animal, and Saul has been a tough cookie, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! My life is full of adventure and purpose as I look after my human providing him companionship, reminders to take his
medication, take a break and go outside to get some fresh air, and many times to let him know I’m here and things will be alright! We also travel and do lots of cool things like training and play – although I can’t seem to tell which is which! What I love the most about traveling is letting Saul sleep on a bed with me – I can’t let him do that at home, but when we travel, I save him a spot on the bed!
I love meeting new people and make it a point to encourage Saul to do the same. I like playing in the snow, parks, swimming, and finding things Saul is always needing me to find, like his phone, his meds, water bottles, keys, and for some reason, he loves having me go find him my toys to play with, but I like to share, so it’s ok! At night, I make sure he sleeps well, and I let him know I’m there when he’s having a bad dream. I’m currently learning to get help – it’s really fun because I get to sprint off and find another human to come back to Saul and find him – it’s a really neat way to play hide and seek…I always find Saul and win!
My biggest accomplishment in life is having a purpose in Saul’s life and knowing that he feels the same. We’re the best of friends, and I simply can’t picture my life without him!