Stephen Simmons joined the Army in 1986, and in 2008, returned from his last tour to Iraq. Like many veterans returning from combat, Simmons suffers from PTSD. How the former infantryman chooses to deal with his post-traumatic stress, however, is anything but ordinary. Meet his two therapists–both of whom look and act much different than you might expect.
Known as Puppi the “Hound of Steel” and Burma the “Adventure Cat,” the fearless service dog and little brown feline have done more for Stephen Simmons than he could have ever imagined.
After becoming homeless in 2012, Simmons has been living out of his jeep in the Southern Oregon wilderness. Simmons could cope with his PTSD by taking medication, but instead, he chooses to hike through trails, swim and scramble up mountains (all with his furry companions)–something Simmons likes to call ‘adventure therapy.’
“When you’ve got PTSD, you’ve got a lot of adrenaline in your system…I think that’s one reason veterans have a hard time when they first come back,” Simmons told OregonLive.com.
A quote on the veteran’s website says it all: “Stephen cared for Puppi & Burma even when he didn’t feel like caring for himself, and together they have become a family – adventuring through the wilderness.”
When Stephen and his hound mix set out for the wilderness, they never expected their adventure-for-two to turn into a trio. But in March 2013, as Stephen and Puppi were sitting outside of a grocery store, a homeless girl approached him with a box and a sign that said “Free Kittens.” Stephen asked if he could see one, and Burma the cat quickly became the perfect addition (she even has her own Instagram account).
Simmons uses his camera phone to document his life in the wilderness of Southern Oregon, and from 2012-2013, Simmons took thousands of images–some of which are now published in his first book, The Adventures of Puppi & Burma.
See more photos from the trio’s adventures below!