Jim Brakewood Jr. may appear to be a frightening personality. He cuts an intimidating figure at 6’2″, filled with muscles, long, untamed hair, and a beard to match. It’s as if a Viking decided he wasn’t quite ready for Valhalla yet and instead visited Instagram.
He does, however, have a soft heart for dogs, especially for Amora, his Staffordshire Bull Terrier,
Jim has witnessed w.a.r. He has been in war, been injured, and lost comrades during his two tours in Iraq. He was s.h.ot in the head in Mosul on his second tour, but he survived and returned home. He was awarded the Purple Heart, but after being diagnosed with PTSD, he turned to drinking and tried to commit s.u.i.cide, like many other soldiers.
But his fighting spirit wouldn’t let him give up that easily.
Jim understood he was on a dangerous road, that he had been making bad choices, and that he needed to change. After considerable consideration, he concluded that a young dog might be beneficial to his PTSD training. He remembers going to the humane society to get a puppy and meeting Amora, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with only three legs, for the first time.
“I went by Amora on my way back to check out the pups. She had just needed to surgically remove her back leg, and her wraps and sutures were still fresh. She tried her hardest to get up and meet me, and I could tell it was hurting her, but she didn’t care, and I fell in love right then. ”
Pit bulls, as we all know, have a poor reputation. They account for nearly 40% of the 1.5 million canines eu.t.h.a.n.ized in shelters each year while being classified as a “d.angerous breed.” Even resembling a Pit Bull breed can result in a dog spending time in a shelter cage or, worse, being sl.a.u.g.h.t.ered right away. Jim, however, was unconcerned. He chose to take her home after being moved to tears by the small doggie in her operation cone. She sat down, got on his lap, and fell asleep. Jim captured the moment with a snapshot of Amora sleeping and him smiling, tears in his eyes and everything.
“I knew my life had changed,” Jim said of the moment captured in the photograph. I couldn’t take it any longer. I knew I needed to stay alive in order to protect her and ensure her safety. She needed my assistance. “I required her.”
Amora had been in a car accident when she came to the shelter. Her leg had been severely wounded and had to be amputated just before she met Jim. She isn’t a “service animal” or a “therapy dog” in the traditional sense of the terms. Jim explains:
I haven’t given Amora much training. She comes when I call her, and that’s about the extent of it. She is not officially defined as a “service animal.” She cuddles up to me when I need it without my asking; she senses when to give me room in some mysterious way; she gives my life meaning and direction. ”
“She entertains me and provides me with a best friend… I don’t believe I can express how important she is to me or how much she has impacted on me in a good way. If I notice that she stops snoring, I wake up in the middle of the night. ”
“She created in me the desire to live.” I was a complete and total shut-in outside the gym after a 5-year relationship ended, and my PTSD and TBI symptoms and concerns were simply getting unbearable. I couldn’t enjoy things anymore, and I didn’t have any motivation for anything and then she changed everything.”
It’s difficult to express. I knew I had to defend her and give her the best life I could when I took her home. And I couldn’t harm myself any longer because she needed me. ”
Amora p.e.r.i.shed in a tr.a.g.ic accident shortly after Jim shared his experience with us. She is remembered lovingly as a bright point in his life and is missed every day. He keeps rescuing Pit Bulls, and he saved Logan shortly after Amora passed.