DOGS AND SOLDIERS, DOGS AS SOLDIERS
Submitted by Lisa A. Yackel, CVPM, PHR
Hospital Administrator at Case Veterinary Hospital
Yesterday I sat in on a webinar about Social Media. It was not surprising to learn that blogs and posts that are uplifting are more likely to be retweeted, commented on, and reposted more than negative writings. It made me think about the articles that made me feel warm inside and of course, I thought of some recent clippings I had seen on the use of canines to help soldiers with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
In Charleston, SC, they have begun training service dogs to help returning soldiers cope with things they have seen during combat. The dogs learn more than 70 commands and 350 tasks that help the men and women with all types of injuries, both emotional and physical. In this particular program, the dogs are taught their skills by prisoners in the brig. The article didnâ€™t comment as such, but I would imagine that the dogs also have a positive effect on the inmates as well as the soldiers they are intended for.
The demand for these service dogs for wounded soldiers is increasing as more soldiers are returning from battle with all kinds of injuries. â€śIn Vietnam, they came back as fatalities,â€ť said Rick Hairston, president and CEO of Carolina Canines for Service. â€śâ€ťNow they are coming back as casualties.â€ť There were more than 300 wounded soldiers on the waiting list for the program at the time the article came out.
I was especially intrigued by the fact that they get the dogs to train from the local shelters. To me it made for a win-win-win situation. The dogs received great homes, the inmates were giving back to society, and the soldiers were able to resume some of their normal activities.
This week our hospital sent four boxes of treats and Kong toys donated by our staff to some of the â€śsoldiersâ€ť in combat. The recipients are working military dogs at Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan. It is our understanding that they are having symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after their work in the field. Their handlers/trainers have requested some toys that they can use to play with the dogs to give them some R & R (Rest and Relaxation). These dogs are giving back to our men and women in uniform as well. They are there protecting our troops and fighting for our countryâ€™s freedoms. It makes me proud and humbled and I am so glad to hear of the good works are four-legged friends are accomplishing.