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From Throes of Combat to Training Canines | News

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From Throes of Combat to Training Canines

He was a Purple Heart recipient who returned to a terrible economy. Now, a Marietta man is back on his feet with a little help from some four-legged friends.

Ryan McPherson's journey has been marked by an independent streak, a recovery from injury, and a joy for life. It's what led him to his new job as a local trainer for the dog training service Bark Busters.

Click on the following link to visit Ryan's Bark Busters page: http://www.barkbusters.com/page.cfm/ID/50/id_directory/1466/

"They'll never understand English," McPherson says of the canines he trains. "They'll never understand all the things that we're saying. But we can understand them."

As a teenager, Ryan's first job was cleaning cages at the local animal clinic. But as an adult, he found himself stuck in a different career -- one he didn't like. That, plus a desire to do something of meaning and service for his country, led him to join the Army in 2005.

"I decided I wanted to do something I could be proud of when I'm 90 years old and sitting in my rocking chair," McPherson said -- but not everyone believed he would actually do it.

"He said, 'I'm gonna join the Army," recalls his mother, Janice Rose. "And I said, 'No, you're not.'

"And he said, 'Yes, I am.'

"And when he gets something in his mind, he does it."

Two years after joining the Army, McPherson was sent to Iraq in 2007. A month away from coming home, an I.E.D. exploded under his tank in Bakuba and severely damaged his right leg.

"I had a fractured foot, a fractured knee ... I tore all the ligaments in my right leg," McPherson says. "I was bruised from hip to toe. I remember asking the doctors, 'How long till I get back in the fight?' And he said, 'You're not getting back in there.'

"It was that bad."

McPherson spent the next two years recovering and rehabbing at Fort Benning. Upon his release, he found a fight he never imagined -- the fight to find a new job.

"You know, the military decorates you and gives you accolades and high honors for what you've done," McPherson recalls, "but that doesn't translate to the civilian world.

"If I was gonna do my own job, my own thing, it had to be something I loved -- and I do love dogs."

And that's what led him back to dogs -- and, ultimately, his new career with Bark Busters.

"Am I a dog whisperer?" McPherson jokes. "I call myself the 'Dog Screamer', because I don't really whisper anything."

But amidst the screaming and training with Bark Busters, McPherson says he has found a new sense of peace and fulfillment.

"The dogs humble me every day," he says. "My experience in the Army gives me a sense of pride and honor every day."


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