"I met her, and she was like this crazy dog. She was running all over the place, on her back wanting her belly rubbed and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I have to have this dog the rest of my life?’” says Louie Belluomini when speaking about the first time he met his service dog, Star.
Captain Belluomini served in the Army for 10 years where he worked as a psychological operations specialist and military police officer. Now veteran, Belluomini was wounded during his time in Afghanistan and Iraq, and suffers from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and damage to his hip. Louie also worked as a flight medic and was deployed to Hurricane Katrina, as an essential paramedic.
He tried therapy and medicine but can find nothing that helps -- that was until he met Star.
Star is the 5-year-old golden retriever, who was paired with Captain Belluomini by K-9s for Warriors, the largest K9/Veteran pairing organization in the United States.
According to recent press, “Belluomini's fears were calmed as soon as he saw Star put her service vest on and get to work. She turned into a completely different dog, and he immediately saw just how capable and intelligent she could be.”
For more than 13 years, Belluomini has worked as a paramedic. In March, he and his golden sidekick began a new journey, working with Ohio Ambulance. Yes, Star works right alongside the team. She’s been scent-trained to work on the ambulance and has been saving lives ever since.
"Typically, she was the first on scene," he said. "So, she often times started the search, and then the police dogs picked it up from there."
One day, Louie decided to reach out to Advertising Vehicles, the nation’s premiere leader in vehicle graphic design and who also happens to be headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Initially, he just wanted a simple, patriotic design done for his K-9 emergency response (EMS) vehicle.
“After hearing his story, and with it being the first of its kind in the U.S. there was no way we could leave it at that,” states a spokesperson with Advertising Vehicles.
"Louie had these great ideas, and it was for such a good cause that we had to find a way to upgrade their project to a clever partial wrap design to achieve his goals," Advertising Vehicles Account Executive Adam Parrock said. "After seeing what we completed, it was worth it to have done what we did for Louie, Star and Ohio Ambulance."
The design features an American flag, a silhouette of Star, prominent logos of Ohio Ambulance, skylines of both Cincinnati and Cleveland, and a dedication to the father of Ohio Ambulance’s current CEO and COO, Chris and Ed, Edward Patriarca.
"The pictures that we had of the layout was phenomenal," Belluomini said. "To see it firsthand is breathtaking, the pictures just don't do justice to what it looks like in person."
With a high-quality, fully-wrapped, EMS response unit, Belluomini and Star are first on the scene and ready to save lives in what can only be described as the “Dog Mobile” for the emergency services unit in Findlay, Ohio.
You can learn more about the pair, and the work they do, at captainlouieandstar.com.