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‘Wiener dog’ helps Iraq War veteran adjust

Scott MacKenzie is sleeping better these days.


‘Wiener dog’ helps Iraq War veteran adjust

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The retired 23-year-old Marine corporal attributes his peace of mind to a 2-year-old dachshund he calls Itchy, after the dachshund in the movie “All Dogs Go to Heaven 2.”

Tom Flynn, vice president of Dachshund Rescue of North America, delivered the dog, formerly named TJ, to MacKenzie at his parents’ home in Canton a week ago. MacKenzie was injured by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Iraq almost two years ago. His jaw was fractured and he has hearing loss, shrapnel wounds and a traumatic brain injury. He retired from the military in August with 90 percent disability.

Flynn, also a Cobb County animal control officer, can’t imagine better therapy. He said the dog and MacKenzie are a perfect fit.

“He is a shy dog, but he went straight to Scott with his tail wagging,” Flynn said. “The look on Scott’s face was magic.”

Offers of dachshunds poured in after an Aug. 10 AJC article about MacKenzie, who said he would like a “little wiener dog” after leaving the Marines. MacKenzie chose a rescue dog in need of a home.

“I feel like I am always on call and don’t sleep a whole lot,” MacKenzie said. “Now Itchy is on watch with me and I know he will alert me if something is wrong.”

The dog follows him around the house on pre-dawn rounds. Having the dog by his side while everyone else is sleeping is comforting, he says.

The dachshund wears a leather collar that has military spec dog tags. Soon Itchy will have a “wiener dog” blouse made from the cammies MacKenzie wore in Iraq.

“Everyone deserves a second chance — just like me,” MacKenzie said. “It is a true relief and blessing to have him.”