This ex-serviceman relies on two emotional support OWLS to cope with his mental health issues and literally takes his feathered friends with him everywhere.
Former soldier Jaylo Miles, 39, credits barn owls Oscar and Louie with helping him live with PTSD, anxiety and autism.
Dad-of-three Jaylo served in the British Army for four years and said his mental health was left in tatters when he was discharged.
Owls Oscar and Louie help him cope and the birds accompany him to coffee shops, restaurants – and even on trips to the supermarket.
Jaylo, from Cardiff, Wales, said: “They both have very different behaviours and different roles in how they help me.
“Oscar’s role for me is a protector. On my bad days I’ll take him out and he’ll give the body language of not to come too close to me.
“Louie is my socialiser. He’s a massive distraction for my PTSD.”
Jaylo served as a fusilier in the British Army, between the ages of 16 and 20, and said that the experience left him with long-lasting PTSD.
“I went through the most horrendous training and bullying you could imagine,” he said.
“It wasn’t until weeks after a tragedy that I noticed how bad my mental health was.”
Out of service, Jaylo struggled to adapt to daily life.
“I couldn’t prepare food for myself and I couldn’t walk very far,” he said.
“I’d get physically and mentally destroyed.”
Two years ago, he stumbled upon Oscar at a breeder’s home and became mesmerized by how the owl kept everyone else at bay.
After adopting Oscar, he soon realized that the bird was in tune with his own mental needs.
“Oscar was representing a lot of what I was going through emotionally, physically and mentally,” Jaylo said.
“A couple months later, I was having night terrors and I felt this cold breeze. Oscar had managed to free himself and was slapping me with his wings trying to wake me up.”
He adopted Louie soon after.
“Louie picks up on my energy and keeps me calm,” he said.
“He lets me know ‘dad you’re getting a bit uptight’.”
Jaylo said the owls being tuned into his energy is completely natural.
“I don’t think you can teach it, even if you had a degree,” he said.
“That training comes through interaction and spending hours upon hours interacting with your owl.
“I take them to cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, anyplace I can go.”
Jaylo is currently working towards a degree in mental health and sociology with the goal to set up a mental health emergency service.
He added: “I intend to set up a recognized emergency service so when someone’s suicidal I’ll get to them as fast as I can.
“I want to build a whole network across Wales, the U.K. and America.”
Jaylo has started a Facebook page called ‘Many Downs, Time To Get Up’, where he details his mental health struggles and helps others around the world with their own.
“I can say I’ve saved over 100 lives on my page just by being there,” Jaylo said.
“It’s quite humbling because it’s just little ole me in Cardiff, Wales.”
Though he is allowed to keep the owls as pets, they are not recognized as service animals, which Jaylo hopes one day will change.
“I don’t think you should put a full stop on any animal because birds are my thing and watching a bird in the sky is a mental picture of freedom for me,” he said.
“Other people might relate their journey to a frog because they like that it takes giant leaps.
“Having a support owl, it was just chosen for me.”