After Colorado veteran loses service dog, Minnesotans make special delivery


The image of a St. Bernard climbing a mountain to rescue a snowbound traveler may be a cliche.

But the story of a canine of that breed saving the life of a suicidal veteran moved a couple of Minnesotans to make their own mountain journey this week.

KRDO-TV reported last month on Brian Gliba, a former combat medic in Colorado Springs whose struggles with post-traumatic stress and other health problems had him thinking of ending his life ... until he met a St. Bernard named Zeus who became his service dog.

With Zeus' help, a rejuvenated Gliba began to reach out to fellow veterans, even starting a non-profit business called Project Wounded Ego.

But last month Zeus was diagnosed with cancer, stopped eating, and within days he was gone.

The story hit home for two Sartell men who are big fans of St. Bernards.

Tom Berger and Drew Austin had planned to keep the runt of a litter born to their St. Bernards in November. But they changed their minds after hearing about Gliba and his loss.

This week KRDO was on hand when the Minnesotans completed their 900-mile drive and pulled up to Gliba's home to deliver young Cleo, who admittedly has some big paws to fill.

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Berger and Austin work for a Waite Park trucking company, AAA Courier, which agreed to cover the cost of their trip to Colorado Springs, KRDO reports.

Gliba had agreed to accept Cleo as a successor to Zeus (not a replacement) and he told his benefactors in front of the TV camera:

"Honestly, I think it's the perfect time and the perfect thing. I didn't know if I was going to go back into this major depression where I'd stop talking to people again and go back to the crying mode, but, you know, if it wasn't for you guys I probably would be there right now, still grieving and not functioning."

Gliba tells KRDO Cleo will soon begin service dog training and will accompany him to veterans events.

Here's their report from February, when Zeus was in his final days.

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