Veteran’s New Community Helps Reunite Him With Lost PTSD Service Dog

Army Veteran Nick Rankin suffers from PTSD, but he manages this condition with the assistance of his beloved service dog Fossy. When the 2-year-old German Shepherd Dog escaped from his kennel in early November 2021, Rankin felt equally lost.

Rankin and Fossy had just moved to Boardman, Ohio a few weeks prior. Neither knew the neighborhood well, and Rankin was especially concerned about his dog being alone.


On November 10th, Rankin spoke with WKBN about his dog’s disappearance. Devastated, the veteran shared:

“He’s phenomenal, he’s phenomenal. He’s my best friend. He goes everywhere I go. He’s friendly with everybody. He’s great with all animals. He’s my best friend.” 

A New But Helpful Neighborhood

Rankin started posting signs around Boardman, letting his new community know not to chase Fossy if they see him. He joined the local lost pet Facebook groups and posted about Fossy there.


Several of Rankin’s new neighbors pitched in to look around their blocks and offered suggestions like leaving out dirty laundry with a recognizable scent on it. Many people spotted Fossy at different times, so they were able to narrow down the search area.

Somehow, Fossy made it several miles away from home. Michael Chapel, who lives over 4 miles away from Nick’s house, saw the dog in the woods near his home.

“Somebody told me they were looking for it and then about a day later all of the sudden here’s this dog coming out of the woods south of me,” Chapel told 7 News.


The Mahoning County Dog Warden helped Rankin set up a humane trap in the woods off of Beech Avenue in Boardman. Hours went by without anything happening. But then, at the hour 12 mark, Fossy appeared in the trap.

An Emotional Reunion

As Rankin prepared to re-bait it on November 12th, he got a call from Chapel informing him Fossy was already inside the trap.

“When he saw me, he started crying… He’s a survivor,” Rankin shared.

After several days out on his own, Fossy is still in good health. He didn’t even look malnourished at all. As it turns out, the resourceful dog had been eating cat food Chapel put out for his own pets.

7 News

Of course glad to have his service dog back again; Rankin is mostly relieved Fossy isn’t out there alone anymore.

“I mean he’s always with us, he’s never alone ever so it’s… the amount of relief and amount of gratefulness to have him back is just insane.” 

Nothing has the power to bring strangers together quite like a dog in need.

Featured Image: Facebook

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