Travis Reed and His Furry Best Friend

Reed shares his life story and how Chewy came into his life.


Travis and Chewy Reed enjoying some time at home.

Carlie Clements, Staff Writer

“I always joke about it (how students greet the pair)‘oh it’s the dog,’ or ‘oh hey Chewy.’ It’s never ‘hey Travis,’” said Travis Reed. Students don’t always engage with Reed the way they do with Chewy. Reed may be Chewy’s best friend or life partner, but there’s a lot more students may not know about him.

Reed is a custodian at Central Hardin High School, and Chewy is his emotional support animal (ESA).

Reed grew up on the West Coast, and after graduating high school he moved on to join the United States Army.

He was a Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Specialist, which Reed said meant he was part of cleanup and recovery of hazardous materials.

Reed had intended to only be in the military for four years, but “four turned into six and six turned into eight turned into a career,” said Reed.

During his time in the military in his early twenties, Reed, unfortunately, had an accident that led to a head injury that was left untreated for several years.

After serving in the military for 16 and a half years, Reed medically retired from Fort Knox. He decided to continue living in the area so his son and daughter would not have to relocate.

Retirement wasn’t a good fit for Reed, and he quickly became bored and decided he wanted to be more involved with society.

Reed then found out a job opening was available at Central Hardin for a custodial position. He was offered the job and gladly accepted.

“You never really stop learning (while working at Central Hardin). It helps to keep up with the new lexicon of lingo that goes around, so it makes pop culture more understandable, and it makes it easy to explain things to my parents (such as pop culture and new phrases and speech they do not understand)…It’s nice to be able to interact within a community and not be so cut off from the world as I used to be,” said Reed.

Reed falls in the middle of age with his colleagues and he has been able to make some great acquaintances in his work position.

“You meet some good acquaintances while you’re in a certain situation, but as you move on, you realize you only get one or two close friends. Friendships are great but they’re hard to come by. You only find one or two close friends in your life and you try to hold them close,” said Reed.

Reed’s own closest friend is also retired military and lives in Wisconsin. He hasn’t seen him in 15 years, but they still check on each other quite regularly.

Due to his mental diagnosis, Reed qualifies for an emotional support animal. His first ESA was a Boston Terrier named Angel. Reed said, “she kind of saved me when I was in a really bad spot.”

“Unfortunately, she got old and had to go to the great dog park in the sky,” said Reed. After this, he went for some time without an emotional support animal and had no plans of getting another.

Reed had a friend and co-worker at the time who bred Miniature Australian Shepherds.

This friend personally finds dogs new homes and takes them to join their families. When she was doing just this with one of Chewy’s littermates, Chewy needed somewhere to stay.

“Chewy wasn’t supposed to be mine, he was purchased by someone else who backed out of the adoption,” Reed said. All changed when Reed agreed to babysit the dog for a weekend.

Late one night, Chewy was wide awake and he and Reed stayed awake and Chewy made Reed his chew toy, hints his name.

After that weekend, the two were peas in a pod and Chewy has been with Reed since.

Chewy did not become Reed’s second emotional support dog until about three years ago. Travis trained Chewy himself.

“A lot of hot dogs and chicken nuggets” were involved in Chewy’s training, Reed said.

Chewy feeds off of Reed’s emotions; his ultimate goal is Reed’s safety and health. He may be a little rough around the edges but he is just perfect for Reed.

If Chewy ever sniffs and then backs away from a student, just know it is nothing personal; he is trained to keep Reed safe, and that is all he is trying to do.

The two go anywhere and do just about anything together. At home, Chewy is just like any other household pet. “I let him chase the squirrels and the rabbits,” said Reed.

Though Chewy has his breaks, like any person he needs his days off work. “A dog gotta dog some days,” said Reed.

For the most part, students are very understanding of Reed and his situation.

“This is so I can have a normal life myself and everyone has been pretty understanding of that. I don’t think I would be where I am today without him emotionally,” said Reed.

Reed’s job in the high school is very beneficial to his mental health, but during the pandemic, it was a bit lonely as custodians were deemed essential and had to work during the shutdown. “It was lonely during the pandemic without students… a school can only get so clean,” said Reed.

“I try to keep a happy face, I try to be friendly to as many of the kids in the school as I can. It’s always nice to see them smile, it gives the job a little bit more purpose. Smiles are pretty and they’re contagious,” said Reed.

Outside of work, Reed is still a kid at heart. “I’m a gamer, I play a lot of video games,” said Reed. He is also pretty good in the outdoors., He likes to fish, hunt, play sports when he can, and do some woodworking. He is currently rebuilding a greenhouse with his son, in hopes of passing down some skills to him.

Reed wants to make students aware of the importance of having a second plan for life.

“On the back burner, you may want to have a secondary plan. There’s a lot of people who have that big picture, but they don’t have a backup plan,” said Reed.

Travis himself is working on one of his second plans: his third degree in college. His first two degrees were to meet the demand of employment at the time, but now he is going to school to learn about one of his passions: history. “Whether or not I pursue teaching, I don’t know,” said Reed.

One of Reed’s biggest motivations is his son, who has Autism and Cerebral Palsy, “I try to not get upset when I have a bad day because he was given a bad hand from the get-go and it takes a lot for him to have a bad day, he’s always smiling, he’s always laughing, he’s always joking, he is just always in a good mood. If he can smile through all that, I need to try harder,” said Reed.

Reed wants students to always remember to be open-minded, not to be afraid of failure, and be unpredictable. Reed wants students to make the best out of life, just as he strives to do every day, with Chewy by his side.