In 1970, Mike Gervell finished serving his second tour of duty in the Vietnam War. With an honorable discharge, he returned to his hometown of Anchorage and found a job scooping ice cream.
Gervell was just 20 years old. Ever since, he has lived a solitary life.
"My whole life I never needed nothing," he said. "Depended on myself pretty much."
Four and a half decades passed in a quiet struggle for Gervell. After he retired in 2011 from a career in air cargo, his daily life narrowed. He spent most of his time in his house. Meals from the Taco Bell or McDonald's drive-through. Grocery shopping at 3 a.m. to avoid crowds. He slept four or five hours a night, with night terrors startling him awake.
Then, in February, a dog opened his world.