As a veteran and a dog lover, there’s nothing more rewarding for me personally than learning of organizations that find unique and fulfilling ways to unite dogs with humans who served. Service dogs are quickly becoming a big part of how disabled veterans return to the home they fought to protect, and when it comes to training and providing service dogs to those who need them, America’s VetDogs leads the way!
While many may know dogs are great at jobs like guiding the blind and using their powerful schnozes to detect bombs or even cancer, I often wonder whether they realize that dogs are also capable of providing much-needed assistance to individual’s suffering from PTSD. Service dogs trained in PTSD assistance learn to recognize the cues that may trigger an individual’s PTSD better than that individual, allowing the dog to lead their handler away from the trigger or take action to calm and comfort them.
Fortunately, America’s VetDogs is not only pioneering new relationships between service dogs and veterans, they’re also doing a great job of raising awareness about the level of assistance a properly trained service dog can provide.
If you haven’t heard of Charlie, NBC TODAY’s current “Puppy With A Purpose,” then allow me to take a moment to introduce you.
A four-month old Labrador Retriever, Charlie is currently being trained in obedience and basic service dog tasks by America’s VetDogs, and you can tune in to the TODAY Show to check his progress! Once Charlie has completed 18 months of primary training, he’ll graduate to advanced training so he can hone the skills he’ll use to provide assistance to one of country’s heroes.
“We are incredibly excited and honored to have Charlie and America’s VetDogs be featured daily on NBC’s TODAY,” a representative of America’s VetDogs told BarkPost. “We’re also excited about the opportunity to reach members of the veteran population who are not aware of our services so they can learn more about our programs, and, if needed, apply for a service dog of their own.”
Charlie will learn a number of things, including ways to support and communicate with his future human counterpart. It’s a time consuming process for both dog and trainer, but any human who has been on the receiving end of a VetDog’s service will swear by the results. When it comes to providing the best quality training, America’s VetDogs goes all out.
America’s VetDogs got its start in 2003, when the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. decided to strengthen its commitment to America’s uniformed service members and set about establishing relationships with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the military to better facilitate providing assistance for disabled vets.
In 2006, America’s VetDogs became its own not-for-profit organization, independent of Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, to double down on their efforts to provide the high quality assistance dogs our veterans deserve. And the types of assistance provided by these pups ranges from services for the visually- or hearing-impaired, as well as assistance for veterans with PTSD. There are also assistance dogs for those with other physical disabilities and occupational therapy dogs. “Whether they’re from WWII or the Global War on Terrorism, these veterans share one common goal: to live without boundaries,” America’s VetDogs told BarkPost. They welcome veterans no matter their brand of service or the origin of their disability, and the variety of assistance their dogs provide certainly speak to their commitment to help as many veterans as possible.
It costs America’s VetDogs $50,000 to raise and train each of its assistance dogs, all at no expense to the veteran the dog will be placed with. Making this generous feat even more impressive is the fact that America’s VetDogs rely solely on “the generosity of individuals, corporations, foundations, and veteran service organizations; it receives no regular government funding,” according to our source at America’s VetDogs.
If you’re interested in lending a paw to America’s VetDogs, there are a number of ways you can help. You can easily help spread the word by following America’s VetDogs on Facebook or Instagram, or you can take direct action and donate!