“Chesty came to us last fall. He was our first LOV foster and the perfect dog for a Marine Corps family like ours. My husband spent 16 years as a Reservist and was active duty for eight of those years. Now he’s a combat artist in residence at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico. I’m a teacher. As a foster, I feel almost that same sense of responsibility: We have to make sure the dogs do well so they get to graduate and do their jobs.

“We learned about Leashes of Valor through a family friend, whose daughter was building dog agility equipment for the farm. During one of her work days, I met some of the LOV dogs. Of course, they were absolutely adorable, and my youngest daughter, Kate, who’s 14, really wanted to help train a service dog. She has anxiety herself, and this has really helped her. If we go into a store, she’s in charge. The dogs sleep in her room. She takes full responsibility and she’s very serious about it. She’s really learned a lot from this.

“What people may not realize is that the dogs help their foster families, too. When we had to quarantine for a couple weeks over Christmas, Chesty would hop on our laps or lay across our legs when we were sad. Now we have our second dog, Colt. This week, I was trying to work with him on “lap.” He would sit on my face and lick me. I belly-laughed. You just don’t do that a whole lot anymore. Life is so serious. But having these dogs and knowing what their purpose is brings me joy. You shouldn’t be afraid to foster a dog because you don’t get to keep the dog. This is not our dog. This is our purpose.”