Bill Campbell used to have a near-phobia about dogs based on a bad childhood experience. But after suffering brain injuries from repeated explosions in Iraq and dealing with the resulting mental challenges, he might find that a dog raised by an inmate in New York is his best friend.

Even his wife, Domenica Campbell, thinks so.

Starting in February, Stevi, a 17-month-old golden Labrador retriever, will be by Bill Campbell’s side at all times as his specially trained assistant, protector and companion.

Campbell, 46, lives with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. He will be the first service member diagnosed with PTSD to receive a dog under a new program started by Puppies Behind Bars, a New York-based nonprofit that trains inmates to raise service dogs.

The 10-year-old organization has raised 190 specially trained canines that are working a variety of jobs, including “seeing” for the blind and sniffing out explosives.

Gloria Gilbert Stoga, the organization’s founder and president, wanted to donate one or more dogs to service members wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On the other side of the country, Domenica Campbell arrives at the only explanation plausible for why her husband was the first chosen.

“For whatever reason, fate put this dog in his way,” his wife said.