NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches County resident found a former Army sergeant's beloved post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) service dog lying dead in a ditch near the Lilly Grove Baptist Church on FM 1638.
Shonyo, a female blue-nose pit bull, had apparently been run over not too far from where she disappeared.
The person who found Shonyo took the dog's collars and attempted to contact her owner, Jaclyn O'Shea. However, he was unsuccessful. After word about the missing dog started to spread, the man contacted the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning.
"Thus morning, I received a call from a citizen here in our county that had found the dog Saturday afternoon," said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges. "Of course, when they had seen it on the news, they contacted me, and it's unfortunate. Apparently, the dog had been run over."
Bridges called O'Shea to give her the bad news. The sheriff had one of his deputies go with O'Shea and her boyfriend, Doug Murray, to pick up Shonyo's body.
The walk into the sheriff's office by O'Shea and Murray was as difficult as any wartime job.
"It's like reliving my husband's passing all over again because she was going to get me through everything," O'Shea said.
O'Shea was given Shonyo's pink collar, which had a tag inscribed with the words, "Shonyo the Incredible" It will now help O'Shea remember incredible East Texans.
Monday night, a Palestine couple brought their rescue dog to assist in the search for Shonyo. Others offered replacement dogs.
"Things didn't work out the way they should have, or we wanted to, but you, for everybody to put in as much effort as they did, it was unreal," Murray said.
"I feel like there is some hope in humanity," O'Shea said. "People are really good, and they know, especially dog owners, dog lovers, the veterans, they understand it's not just losing a dog; it's losing a child. It's losing a gift, a family member, everything."
The couple is now relying on their military training to get them through their loss.
"Look, we're both non-commissioned officers, you know," O'Shea said. "We know how to focus on a mission and get it done and execute without emotion, and that's what we have to do for right now just to get our heads above water."
Although the two veterans shed tears over the loss of O'Shea's PTSD service dog, but the memories of Shonyo the Incredible" will inspire them to carry on.
One Lukfin resident even offered O'Shea first pick from a litter of blue-nose pit bull puppies born just two weeks ago. She's thinking about accepting the offer.
Meanwhile, the couple plans to resume their getaway to East Texas to clear their minds. They will also hike the complete Appalachian Trail. It was a trip they had been planning to take with Shonyo by their side.
In a previous East Texas News story, O'Shea explained Shonyo's name.
"She's named after my late husband, who was also a veteran," O'Shea said. "He committed suicide about 10 months ago, right when I got her. And she's been snapping me out of my issues that I've had."
O'Shea has post traumatic stress disorder. The former Army sergeant served in Afghanistan. Although she hasn't been through Special Forces training, she was assigned to a Special Forces unit, where she interacted with the locals and helped gather intelligence.
During her time in Afghanistan, O'Shea served with Special Forces and regular infantry soldiers. She said because the Afghan people were curious about American women serving in the military, they often opened up to her and other female soldiers more than their male counterparts.
'O'Shea suffered a traumatic brain injury while she was deployed to Afghanistan. She bought Shonyo, a female blue nose put bull, to her cope with panic attacks.
"Screaming, you know. And it's really painful," O'Shea said. "And what she does is she just looks at me and stands on my lap, and I look at her, and I snap out of it. And it helps me."
Shonyo helped so much that she gained PTSD certification.
O'Shea and Murray both retired from the military about three weeks ago. Murray, a 16-year military police veteran, suggested a road trip to East Texas to help the couple clear their minds.
Within 15 minutes of finishing the 16-hour road trip, Shonyo disappeared from Murray's grandparent's fenced yard on the Old Tyler Road near the intersection of FM 343.