Finding a puppy under the Christmas tree may be viewed as a clichéd holiday tradition, but for this former Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the newborn beagle was the perfect gift.
Peter Coukoulis from Tallahassee, Florida was brought to tears when his family surrounded him Wednesday, and presented him a tiny puppy as an early Christmas present.
"Hey pretty girl," 26-year-old Peter could be heard saying in a video licensed by Caters News, while wiping away tears of joy with one hand, and holding his new puppy in the other.
His mom, Dena Coukoulis, told InsideEdition.com he has been struggling from PTSD since returning to civilian life three years ago.
"Sometimes he just looks sad to me," Dena said. "[He feels] a lack of purpose and self-worth. He has a hard time sleeping because he has bad dreams. Anytime he sees something big in the news, he feels like he could have done more."
Although Peter, who now works as an electrician, was qualified for a service dog, she said her son passed on the opportunity, hoping the dog will go to a veteran who deserved a dog more.
She said her son got his first beagle when he was just 9 years old. The pooch passed away just a month before he returned from his service in Afghanistan.
"He's just been through a lot adapting to civilian life, and he's finally gotten to the point where I felt as his mother that he's ready for a puppy," she said, "but it had to be a beagle to replace the beagle that he lost."
Though it has only been a few days since Peter was given the pup, Dena said she's already seeing improvement in her son's demeanor.
"He's already starting to talk about plans for the future and buying his own home," she said. "It's just been incredible."