We are officially in the dog days of summer. However, these hot, sultry days don’t slow down American Humane’s lifesaving work, and we are thrilled to celebrate two new graduates from our Pups4PatriotsTM program.
This extraordinary program provides specially trained service dogs to veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. Once trained, service dogs can help mitigate symptoms associated with trauma. Meet our recent grads!
Jonathan served in the U.S. Navy from 2002 – 2010, both active duty and in the reserves. During his service, he was deployed to the Mediterranean, Japan and Spain. He lives in Florida and is paired with Pearl, a female mixed breed.
Note from Jonathan:
I adopted Pearl at eight weeks old from the shelter. She was one of eight puppies in the litter. She is a very special dog to me with the white heart-shaped marking on her face that reminds me of how much she loves me. She is super active and happy dog. It took patience to train, but with the help of American Humane, it was a complete success. Pearl helps me by hugging me to help me with grounding when needed and with the buffering when we are standing in lines. She helps calm me when I’m anxious and is a true blessing. Now I can feel confident to go out without fear – with my best friend Pearl.
Osbaldo is a U.S. Army veteran who served from 2001-2015. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. He lives in Arizona and is paired with Oakley, a male Labrador Retriever.
Note from Osbaldo:
I would like to thank American Humane for their work in helping veterans like me get paired with a service dog. My journey started back in 2001 when I joined the Army and it was filled with honor, sacrifice, joy, and scars not visible, but always present. I was deployed 2 times to Afghanistan and 1 to Iraq. The year 2005 was marked with my first deployment in which I witnessed the harshness of war.
Then fast forward to 2015 and my release from the Army, I entered in a denial not wanting to admit I was not the same person. I was in the denial phase for a very long time, until I saw a picture of Oakley being available to a qualifying veteran. At that time, I found the courage to finally break free from denying I needed help. I contacted American Humane and got the information needed to proceed. It was a year from the day I started the process to the day I welcomed Oakley home.
Oakley is now helping me conquer my anxiety, nightmares and is always by my side. I must say that I’m beyond blessed to have been paired with him, as he continues to work and get used to his new life by my side. We are still learning from each other and getting used to everyday life. I have noticed a difference and my anxiety and nightmares – even though they are present, they are much easier to control. He is very alert and fast to alert when he notices my hands and feet movement. We continue to work and know that we will be much better with time and practice.
There are many obstacles in the way of veterans in need of service dogs, including long waiting lists and exorbitant costs. Here at American Humane, we are honored to harness the healing power of the human-animal bond to train pups who are in need of a forever home as service dogs for our nation’s brave warriors, at no cost to the veteran. We are able to save lives on both ends of the leash through the generous support of our donors. To learn more and fund lifesaving service dogs, visit www.americanhumane.org/program/military/.