“I aim to serve…” — K9 Hero
A Badge of Honor for K9’s
Canines trained for the service of our country go above and beyond the expectations anyone could ask of their beloved pets. Showing exemplary control and keen senses to carry out their duty is remarkable. They are well deserving of a special day recognizing their valor for putting their lives unconditionally at stake with a simple ask.
Beyond the Field
Whether it’s a companion pet or a service animal, the dogs that take care of our veterans play a crucial role in the service and in their recovery.
Dogs provide comfort and companionship without judgment. They’re notorious for giving unconditional love and can help rebuild relationships with people. Dogs are good listeners. You can confide in them and trust them with your innermost thoughts without judgement. Dogs also require attention, so it creates a sense of duty and responsibility for the veteran, allowing them to become a responsible pet owner. They arise each morning with a purpose to care for another living creature – whether that be the simple task of feeding and grooming or engaging in one-on-one playtime. The love an animal shows can touch even the most pained hearts.
Here are three exceptional organizations providing resources for veterans:
America’s VetDogs (@AmericasVetDogs)
America’s VetDogs is a non-profit organization that provides service dogs for veterans with physical disabilities and PTSD service dogs for veterans facing post-traumatic stress disorder. Their services are also offered to active duty military personnel as well as first responders. In addition, this non-profit offers their training programs at no cost to the individual needing the services.
Pets for Vets (@PetsforVets)
Pets for Vets is a non-profit organization that pairs veterans with shelter animals. Once a perfect match is found based on the vet’s personality and lifestyle traits, the animal is professionally trained to become a companion pet. This program is a win-win because, not only does it rehabilitate the veterans, but it also allows shelter animals a second chance.
Pets for Patriots (@PetsforPatriots)
Pets for Patriots is a non-profit organization that allows military personnel to adopt homeless dogs and cats through an approved partner-shelter in their community. In order to assist with finances, they also partner with veterinarians to provide discounted services and offer cost-reduction for pet resources such as food and toys.
A Veteran’s Story
In an interview with veteran David Jurado now an Executive Director of Companions for Heroes. He first started as a client and was connected to Willett, his PTSD service dog. Prior to Willett, Jurado describes, “Reintegration [back at home] was non-existent.” He explains that he self-medicated with alcohol, which led to problems with his marriage and children.
Jurado explains, “When Willett entered the home, I found a new mission which was making him the best service dog possible. He brought my wife and I closer than we have been and happy. My children enjoyed spending time with him as well as bringing me joy to see my kids happy.” He says that he encountered much discrimination at his previous workplace and local church due to having a service dog, which lead him to become an advocate for PTSD service dogs.
Jurado says, “Willett is truly becoming a resource for me to control my temper, anxiety, and panic attacks in public places and home as well.”
Jurado recommends veterans seeking out service dogs to research federal laws in case obstacles presents themselves during reintegration. He also suggests taking the entire family into consideration when adopting a pet – especially small children. Thirdly, he reminds us that the animal may need time to adjust as much as the family.
They have become so popular that A&E has created a docu-series called “Dogs of War” that highlights the New Mexico organization, Paws and Stripes, and their journey in providing wounded veterans with PTSD or traumatic brain injury with service dogs.
Service animals and companion pets provide love, comfort, and friendship for our valiant military members. Dealing with mental or physical disabilities isn’t easy and these furry critters can help in easing some of the pain. As a companion pet rubs its wet nose against you and gazes at you with those hopeful eyes, a feeling of peace and assurance washes over you. After all, isn’t that what being “home” should be all about?
What’s Your Take?
Do you have a tale to share about an amazing canine in your life?