[The following is an excerpt from "Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life With Dogs".]
David E. Sharpe, a senior airman in the United States Air Force, returned from his deployment to Saudi Arabia in 2002. It was a joyless homecoming: Suffering residual trauma from his deployment, he drank too much, picked fights, and punched holes in the refrigerator door.
A friend suggested that he get a dog, so he adopted a brown-and-white pit bull puppy named Cheyenne.
Three months later, "Things got really bad," Sharpe remembers. "I had two military buddies who committed suicide, and I couldn't deal with what was in my head. I went to my room and took out a .45 my father had given me that he had in Ranger school. I was crying and calling myself a loser, and then I pulled the hammer back, put the barrel in my mouth and my thumb on the trigger. And as soon as I did that, one of the weirdest things happened.
"This little pup, who was maybe six months old at the time, came up and licked my ear, which distracted me so I took the gun out of my mouth to ask, ‘What did you do that for?' And then she came over and sat down in my lap and put her head on my right thigh. The pistol was on my left. I understood it was an ultimatum to choose her or to take my life. I chose her, and I never looked back."