As dog owners and dog trainers with Bark Busters, we have long known the comforting nature of dogs. When you're sick or depressed, they can sense your mood. They snuggle up to you and with their happy little faces and remind you of how much you are loved and depended upon.
Recent articles have shown how they help soldiers, the disabled and even seniors to improve their quality of life. Whether you call them service dogs, assistance dogs, guide dogs, helper dogs, aide dogs, or support dogs, there is no doubt that these specially-trained dogs are invaluable to their partners. From acting as eyes and ears for their dog owners to providing life-saving services, many dogs provide not only comfort and companionship, but life-saving services as well. We thought we would share two breakthroughs that have been made with dogs lending a paw for soldiers and the disabled.
K9s for Warriors. Meet Alex Brown and his Labradoodle Skip who is trained to help Alex with his PTSD. This program pairs veterans with highly skilled dogs (mainly from shelters) who serve as bodyguard, therapist and friend to soldiers grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Their success rate? A phenomenal 95%! According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, approximately 22 veterans commit suicide every day. "I sat in my room and tried to think of reasons why I shouldn't kill myself," Brown said. "And every day it got harder to find a reason not to." Skip not only gave him a reason to live, but shields him from any situations that could cause anxiety. He even licks and kisses him until he wakes up from nightmares.
Dogs for the Disabled. Dogs have long helped both children and adults with physical disabilities, but are now achieving success with both autism and dementia. Take Jacob and his Autism Assistance dog Tom. "Calmer, relaxed and safer" is how Jacob's Mom describes family life and Jacob's behavior since the introduction of Tom. She goes on to say: "It's amazing; we can now walk to school and enjoy trips to the shops, which used to be very stressful for Jacob. However now thanks to Tom, Jacob is happy to walk to school and eating out is one of his favorite things to do. He is much more confident and able to overcome his anxieties better". Or let me introduce you to Oscar and Kaspa who have been trained to help dementia patients take medicine, get out in the world without getting lost and achieve an overall sense of calmness. As their dog owner Glenys says: "Kaspa has given us our lives back".
If you know of any dogs or organizations that you think should be in the spotlight, we'd love to hear about them!