Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Service Dogs for Combat Veterans

Jakob, a veteran of multiple combat missionns in Iraq and Afganistan, suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  This condition of hyperalertness left him unable to take restful naps.  Then he found his servic dog, Tracer, through K9s for Warriors and is finally able to take a nap with Tracer on cover.  Let me give  you some background on this story.

In our previous post, Pet Praise discussed service dogs for the blind. This time we will talk about service dogs for veterans with PTSD.  Our focus will be on a specific organization in our Pet Praise Community, K9s For Warriors, and how the select and train their service dogs, the benefits to veterans, and some materials about the rights of service dogs and their warriors.  First we have brief introductory video

As we discussed in our previous blog about service dogs for the blind, there are also special requirements for service dogs for combat veterans.  They must have the proper temperament, be very trainable, not be  aggressive in public with other dogs and be strong enough to perform their assignments.  K9s for Warriors gets about 95% of their dogs from rescue organizations, but as with service dogs for the blind, retriever and retriever mix dogs are a significant percentage of those that are accepted and make it through the training.
Service dogs for veterans with PTSD also need special skills to assist veterans with missing limbs or braces.  For instance, they may need to retrieve a cane, help balance and amputee, or retrieve a dropped credit card for a veteran who has lost the good of his hands.  Also, like service dogs for the blind might need to know the command, "find the elevator", service dogs for PTSD veterans need to know the command, "cover," which means you have my back and let me know if any danger is there.
An important factor for everyone to know and understand is that Federal Disability Laws allow service dogs to go everywhere that their human partners can go.  This includes such things as restaurants, airplanes, etc. where dogs are usually not allowed.
Now back to Tracer and Jakob.  Jakob was having problems with going in public because of his hyperalertness.  He was nervous and irritable in crowds, could not sleep well and had other social problems.  His wife suggested a service dog.  But Jakob already had two dogs as pets, so he was skeptical about what the service dog might do.  Finally, after some research on his part and more prodding by his wife, he selected K9s For Warriors in Florida and entered the service dog program. 
Now as a graduate and back home in Spokane, WA, Jakob, with the help of Tracer, is able to take naps, go to the mall with his wife and comfortably enter more social activies with his friends and family.  Pet Praise wants to thank Jakob and other combat veterans for their service to the country and to thank K9s For Warriors and similar service dog organizations for assisting the veterans in such a significant way.  Pet Praise, to do our part, offers 10% of all retail sales on any Pet Praise product to K9s For Warriors if purcharsers enter the code K9s458 at checkout.


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