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More Than a Best Friend

October 10, 2022
woman posing with three dogs
Laura Murray poses with three of The Rescue for PTSD dogs. (Courtesy photo).

Alumna Laura Murray saves dogs and veterans through nonprofit The Rescue for PTSD.


By Tamara Linse 

Jeff is a Vietnam-era veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served as an aerial imagery interpretation specialist. As a result of his service, he suffers from debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, including severe anxiety and sleep disorders. He has had open-heart surgery and two strokes. 

Tuve, pronounced too-vay, is a 70-pound German shepherd. She was adopted in 2017 as a 1-year-old from the Houston City Shelter through the Save-A-Pet Rescue. She quickly won hearts by learning to fetch in less than 20 minutes (which you can witness, along with her training, on YouTube at

Tuve was the first service dog rescued and trained by Houston-based organization The Rescue for PTSD (

Now Tuve helps Jeff. They were matched in 2018, and Jeff adopted Tuve in 2019. They are perfect for each other. On their second day of transition, Tuve alerted without cue to Jeff’s anxiety and performed deep pressure therapy to calm him. If Jeff falls, Tuve sits with him and barks until someone comes to help. She is by his side and gives him confidence in crowds, making space for him. She helps him sleep — she signals bedtime, keeps watch next to him to allow him to rest, and wakes him if he has a nightmare. She also fetches her leash, dropped objects, medical kits and other things. She loves it when Jeff brushes her.

“Tuve changed my life,” Jeff says.

This program, The Rescue for PTSD, is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established in 2017 whose mission is to adopt and train shelter or rescue dogs to be psychiatric service dog partners for military veterans suffering from PTSD to aid in the restoration of their emotional and physical independence.

Geologist Laura Murray is the founder and CEO of The Rescue for PTSD. She and her husband, Aric, are UW alumni who now live in Houston (Laura, M.S., ’99, geophysics; Aric, B.S., ’98, architectural engineering). Laura works for the energy company Chevron, which highlighted Murray and her amazing work as part of “The Humans Behind the Human Energy Company” series at

“Compassion describes my hobby in so many ways,” she says. “It’s basically every waking moment that I’m not at work.”

Murray comes from a military family — her father was a Marine and her grandfather was in the Navy — and their family has always loved dogs. Then in 2017, it all came together. The couple met several veterans, some with service dogs: “My husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘Are we going to listen to the signs and go ahead and do this now? Do we have to be hit in the head about this?’”

Laura’s mom got her the equivalent of Nonprofits for Dummies for her birthday, and the rest is history.

What began with one dog and one veteran has now expanded, and The Rescue trains as many as it can — the organization has a list of veterans from across the country waiting to be matched with trained service dogs. The organization includes a head trainer, with numerous fosters and volunteers. The needs of the veteran guide the dog’s education, which culminates in a three-day transition training.

In addition to the full training and matching program, The Rescue established a group outreach to impact more veterans and their dogs. Once a month, veterans travel from the Houston region to train their own service dogs. The sessions last four hours and include puppy, beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The group members have become friends and provide support for one another throughout the month when they are not in class.

“Each of our dogs has a little piece of my heart,” Murray says. It’s hard to transition them to their veteran partner, she says, but it’s also heart-warming. “We keep track of the teams for the life of the dog.”

Murray adds, “Veterans do so much for us, and there just isn’t enough done for them when they come home.”

Including that initial match of Jeff and Tuve in 2018, The Rescue has matched 11 pairs of dogs and veterans in the full training program, with five more dogs in training. In addition, 36 teams are in the monthly group training program, with more joining all the time. Thirteen teams have graduated.

“We rescue the dogs, and then the dogs help rescue the veterans,” Murray says. “There is a long waiting list. We are a small organization that is filling a very big need.”

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