A TIDWORTH soldier with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been given a new lease of life thanks to a homeless hound.

Shaun Faulkner said his specially trained PTSD assistance dog Cassie has transformed his life.

“I can’t imagine life without her,” he said. “Without her I would be a recluse.”

Shaun joined the army at 16 in 2003. He did four tours of Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming a corporal in 2014.

Later he started to suffer nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks from the rocket and mortar fire he had experienced.

On returning from Germany to the UK in 2015, Shaun was diagnosed with PTSD.

His symptoms meant he was missing out on family life with his wife, Carmen, and their four young children as he no longer wanted to leave the house but then he saw an advert for charity, Service Dogs UK.

Shaun said: “I’d go to the supermarket and just stand there, forgetting what I was there for. I saw the advert and it really appealed to me as I’ve had dogs all my life.

“I am passionate about rescue dogs. It’s not their fault they are in the situation they are in, and that was the same for me.”

Service Dogs UK provides veterans from the British Armed Forces and emergency services suffering from PTSD, with trained assistance dogs who are selected from rescue centres.

Shaun said: “It might sound like a cliché but it really was love at first sight. She jumped on my knee and started licking me.”

Shaun is now happy to leave the house with the spaniel cross by his side and is able to enjoy family life again.

Judith Broug, who founded Service Dogs UK with Garry Botterill, said: “Cassie has given Shaun a sense of purpose again and independence.”