RICHMOND, Va. -- Rob Murafsky and Monsoon look like your typical man and best friend duo. But the partners didn’t forge their relationship at a breeder or a shelter. They teamed up over tragedy.
“He has given me my life back," Murafsky said about his four-legged friend.
Murafsky joined the U.S. Army at age 18. In 2003, the infantryman was serving his first tour in Baghdad. The experience was filled with firefights and mortar rounds.
"You never know who is the enemy," he said of the experience. "Close calls happen all of the time where you hear bullets just zing past your ear."
During his second tour in 2006, Murafsky did not have a good feeling.
“I would silently say prayers in the back of the Bradley on our way to our missions," he said. “You just never know what’s going to happen.”
While on a patrol in August 2006, a sniper shot Murafsky in the head.
Fellow soldiers rushed him to a surgeon.
“The chaplain came out and read me my last rights," he recalled. "I thought I was going to die.”
He survived, but with his beloved military career over and the loss of an eye, his life descended into a downward spiral.
The PTSD was constant.
“I started drinking a lot," he said. "The demons started coming.”
He met his future wife Alison while recuperating at Walter Reed.
“I am there every step of the way with him into his journey into feeling complete and functioning human again," she said.
The couple went on to welcome two daughters, but his deep depression never really subsided.
“Depression. Drinking. Anxiety. They were kind of slowly killing me," he said.
The veteran knew he needed help. That's when he found Leashes of Valor.
The nonprofit organization in Caroline County pairs veterans with specially trained canines.
“Within a day or two they reached back out to me," he said.
And then, in 2019, he found salvation at the end of a leash.
“He just ran towards me and started licking my face," he recalled.
Murafsky credits Monsoon and Leashes of Valor with restoring his confidence and will to live.
“It is just incredible what Monsoon has brought to him," his wife said.
Shadow would be another apt name for Monsoon because he never leaves Murafsky's side.
“I knew from there I was like ‘OK. I think I’m going to be OK," he said.
This proud Army veteran doesn’t know where he would be without his 85-pound furry companion.
“My nightmares and things they’ve kind of stopped," he said.
Simply put this lovable lab saved Murafsky's life far from the battlefield.
Rob Murafsky ’s career as a soldier may have ended in Iraq after his injury, but he is still working indirectly for the military.
He has been working at the Pentagon for a dozen years.
His buddy Monsoon tags along to the office every day.