YORK, Pa. – Budhi Blair’s first dog was beaten to death in front of his eyes.

The dog had learned to protect him from abuse by a relative, and one day the dog’s heroism was punished.

This is how Blair’s life began and it broke down even more over the years: a period in the military that caused PTSD, his best friend’s brutal death, habitual drinking, a fight after a wedding that resulted in a long stay in prison, and a Knife attack in prison.

At the worst possible moments, a puppy would break through its pain.

“She opened me up”: SalsaBlair moved to Gap, Lancaster County as a teenager and moved in with his aunt and uncle who were trying to stabilize his life.

“They were at the deep end of the pool and they didn’t know. I was so traumatized. They wanted me to be a normal kid and I just wasn’t, ”he said.

Unaware of the darkness of his childhood, Blair joined the Navy and lived on a ship for most of his nine-year stint.

One day he was called in to clean up the horrific scene of a murder, a man who couldn’t be identified by all the blood, Blair said, but it turned out to be his best friend.

Post-traumatic stress disorder followed Blair out of service and into life as an executive in an IT company.

A relative suggested bringing a dog that needed a home: salsa.

“This is where the story becomes more impactful for me,” he said. “I cannot explain the voodoo. She opened me up. “

He had been in and out of relationships with women in his life but never stayed around. Salsa’s presence opened him up to a real relationship, then he met the woman who would become his first wife and his daughter’s mother.

The whole time, PTSD was wrapping around his brain and not letting go of it. He didn’t understand, but it weighed on him. He had lived with trauma for most of his life. He managed to keep his business life intact but drank a lot at night. Eventually his work life began to fail, and so did his marriage.

One night in 2006, he drank so much that he passed out. He woke up to the police with his guns drawn. He tried to kill someone. He was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault and was unable to defend himself. He had no memory of what had happened.

“I felt like a bastard competing,” he said.

In prison he ended up in the suicide cell.

“At some point I broke at this point. I’ve started to seek advice, ”he said. “I started talking about my things and got sober. I started helping other people. “

He worked with other inmates to achieve the GED and taught art and computer classes. He reformed himself and it was noticed. He was asked if he wanted to do dog training. Saved again.

Layla was a lively pit bull.

“The only person who could interact with this dog was me. I looked at this dog and saw myself, ”he said.

“This is the first night I’ve slept through the night in 10-15 years,” he said.

She had scars; He had scars, physically and emotionally. Beneath his wounds was a mark on his back where he was once stabbed in prison.

“Dogs make me more human,” he said.

Today, a few years out of jail, Blair is remarried to Susan Blair, a trained service dog named Ryder, a high-energy Black Labrador-Brittany mix.

Blair found Ryder through a dog training business he runs from his Felton home, Training Buddy, which gives him the opportunity to work with the one loyal creature he knows. Ryder lived with a family who wanted to train for the dog and then decided it was too much for them.

“I had to meet Ryder where he is,” said Blair. Instead of changing the dog’s personality, it was about adapting to it.

Abby Weitkamp, ​​a Wrightsville-based Training Buddy employee, calls Blair “a very intuitive person” who adjusts to a person’s experience with their dog.

He did that to Ryder by turning the dog into a service animal that Blair “grounds” in public facilities and gives him a focus when his PTSD begins to rise.

“I’m so afraid to go out in public because I’m so afraid that something is going to happen,” he said. He feels tense when someone gets too close or gives him the wrong look. It brings back childhood and military years waiting for the enemy to fall. “It’s this dog who fixes me. It is this dog that enables me to go out in public. “

It took him decades to understand the wounds buried in him, but he is not healed.

“Without a dog, I’d be on my head in a hurry,” he said. “I was broken and had to call someone to help me.”