Posted by Elizabeth Kubik | 23/09/2020
September is National Service Dog Month – a time to recognize our canine companions for the extraordinary services they provide daily. Elanco is a proud sponsor of K9s For Warriors, the nation’s largest veteran service organization providing highly skilled Service Dogs to disabled American heroes.
The core of the training program is focused on mitigating the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and military sexual trauma (MST) to prevent veteran suicide. The goal: empower Warriors to return to their lives with dignity and independence.
One Warrior, Jeff, shared his experience with his Service Dog, Holly. The two have been inseparable since they were paired together in the training program.
“It was love at first sight for both of us,” said Jeff. “As soon as I walked in the gate and saw her, I could tell in my heart that my life was going to change. She took to me quicker than any dog I’ve ever been around. Holly seemed to know her life purpose was to help. And, she knew that it was me that she was supposed to help.”
K9s for Warriors provides PTSD service dogs at no cost to help restore program participants physical and emotional independence. Their focus is on healing – helping the veteran and paired Service Dog build a bond to facilitate healing and recovery. Jeff has become a big advocate for the program and has recommended it to several other veterans because of how much Holly has helped him.
“Holly’s brought me around 180 degrees,” said Jeff. “I almost didn’t leave my house at all before her. Since we’ve been together, I look forward to going out with her. My family – a wife and three kids – say that I’m happier and more easy-going now.”
As the healing takes place, the reintegration to society begins. Warriors can return to their communities after completing the three-week training program with a new “leash” on life as productive citizens who make a positive difference.
Jeff was worried about keeping up with Holly’s training. As it turned out, Holly settled perfectly into their new routine. After breakfast and a morning walk, Holly keeps Jeff company as he studies for his accounting degree. She balances keeping him focused with frequent breaks to chase her ball and play with toys in the yard. Holly follows Jeff around all day long, but it’s the end-of-day cuddles that are Jeff’s favorite.
“When I’m setting down at night and watching TV with my family, she always climbs up and lays in my lap. That’s probably the best part of my day with her. She’s really relaxed and I am, too.” Jeff concludes.
With the support of private donors and the community, K9s for Warriors can save the lives of veterans struggling with service-connected PTSD, TBI and/or MST. There are many ways to get involved, no matter where you live. For more information, please visit k9sforwarriors.org/get-involved.