Paws That Heal: The Bond Between Veterans and Dogs
Category_Dog Blog
Category_The Wild Times

Paws That Heal: The Bond Between Veterans and Dogs

by Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva

Veterans Day is a special day in which we honor and show appreciation to the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces, protecting our nation's freedom. While it's a time to remember their sacrifices, it's also an opportunity to shed light on the remarkable and heartwarming bond between veterans and dogs. Dogs have played a pivotal role in supporting veterans during and after their service, providing invaluable physical and emotional assistance. Continue reading to learn more about the profound ways in which dogs help veterans, fostering healing, and enhancing their quality of life post-service.

Service Dogs for Veterans

Service dogs receive special training to help veterans with the following:

Physical Assistance: Service dogs are trained to assist veterans with physical disabilities, such as mobility impairments, loss of limbs, or traumatic injuries. These remarkable dogs are trained to perform tasks like opening doors, fetching items, and helping their handlers maintain balance and stability.

Emotional Support: Many veterans return from their service with emotional scars, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. Service dogs can be trained to provide emotional support and comfort. They offer a constant source of companionship, reduce stress and anxiety, and offer a sense of security and safety. They can also help veterans lead more independent lives, allowing them to regain a sense of purpose, and re-engage with society.

Alert and Response: Service dogs can be trained to alert veterans to the onset of medical conditions like seizures or low blood sugar, allowing them to seek timely medical attention. For veterans with physical or mental health issues, these dogs are lifesaving guardians.

Non-Service Dogs

Apart from service dogs, many veterans benefit from the companionship of non-service dogs in their daily lives for:

Stress Reduction: Interacting with dogs has been proven to reduce stress and lower cortisol levels, which is particularly beneficial for veterans dealing with PTSD and anxiety.

Social Connection: Dogs are known to break down social barriers and encourage veterans to interact with others. They serve as "icebreakers," helping veterans establish new connections and rebuild relationships.

Physical Activity: Caring for a dog requires regular exercise and outdoor activities, which can promote physical fitness and overall well-being for veterans.

Now that we know all the wonderful ways dogs can help veterans, lets take a look at the wonderful organizations working to connect veterans with dogs.

Non-Profit Organizations

There are over 50 active non-profit organizations dedicated to providing veterans with service dogs and facilitating the therapeutic benefits of canine companionship. Some notable initiatives include:

Veterans Moving Forward: This organization provides service dogs and emotional support dogs to veterans with physical and/or mental health challenges at no cost to the veteran or their family.

Pups4Patriots: This organization rescues qualified shelter dogs and trains them free of charge for Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Canine Angels: Canine Angels not only rescues shelter dogs to rehabilitate and place with veterans, but they will also train dogs that were already part of a veteran’s life.

K9s For Warriors: K9s For Warriors pairs rescued shelter dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. Through a comprehensive training program, they create life-changing partnerships. They are the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to veterans.

America’s VetDogs: A sister organization to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, America’s VetDogs trains and places service dogs for those with physical disabilities – guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision; service dogs to help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder; and facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals.

Patriot PAWS Service Dogs: This organization trains and provides service dogs to disabled American veterans at no cost, allowing them to regain independence and confidence.

Celebrating Veterans and Dogs

On Veterans Day, as we pay tribute to our veterans, let's also celebrate the extraordinary role that dogs play in the lives of those who have served our nation. These loyal and compassionate animals offer hope, healing, and companionship to veterans, aiding in their physical and emotional recovery. Whether it's a service dog offering practical assistance or a faithful four-legged friend providing unwavering support, the bond between dogs and veterans is a source of inspiration and resilience. We honor and salute our veterans and their canine allies for their remarkable journey towards healing and renewed purpose.

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