Brian Gliba said he was near ending his life before he got his service dog, Zeus. Gliba was a former combat medic who had suffered shoulder, back and spine injuries and subsequently fought PTSD and a deep depression.
However, Gliba said Zeus was able to help pull from him from that dark place and give him a reason to move forward, which eventually led him to start Project Wounded Ego. The project uses Gliba’s photography skills to capture beautiful moments of other wounded vets in an effort to help them rebuild their confidence.
But in February, Zeus stopped eating and was soon diagnosed with stomach and kidney cancer. There was little the doctors could do for Zeus, and he was euthanized days later.
Two men living nearly a thousand miles away saw Gliba’s story and were moved. Tom Berger and Drew Austin unexpectedly had an extra puppy in a recent litter delivered by Asia, a St. Bernard, the same breed as Zeus.
“This fifth puppy was up in the ribcage of Asia, kind of hidden and tucked away,” Berger said. “She’s the runt of the litter.”
Berger’s son wanted the runt, who they had named Cleo, but after seeing Gliba’s story, he changed his mind and decided to give the puppy to Gliba instead.
So they all packed up an RV and made the trip to deliver Cleo to Gliba.
“Honestly, I think it’s the perfect time and the perfect thing,” Gliba said. “I didn’t know if I was going to go back into this major depression where I’d stop talking to people again and go back to the crying mode.”
Austin admits that Cleo has “huge paws to fill,” but it’s a journey to which they are all looking forward.