Man’s Best Friend is so true! “Man”, meaning “Human”, of course. It is no surprise to this dog lover that ‘dog therapy’ has become officially popular in the veteran community. August 5-11 2012 is, officially, “International Assistance Dog Week”, as stated on the VA official website, IADW was “created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations.” Here is the official International Assistance Dog Awareness Week website.
Who could disagree with the importance of such an important relationship between veteran and their dog friend? My father got a Golden Retriever dog as soon as he could when he returned from duty in Vietnam. Those two spent many hours and years together. Dogs are not only wonderful ‘Service’ dogs, to help humans physically, but they are also very helpful as ‘Theraputic’ companion dogs for emotional/mental health help.
Consider Soldiers Best Friend at http://soldiersbestfriend.org/. Their mission is “To help our war heroes improve in their symptoms of PTSD, adjust back into civilian life, lead a more productive life and help them build self esteem. We also want to help the pet overpopulation problem by helping place shelter or rescue dogs into good homes.”
This article in military.com says “In 2006 alone, the number of veterans seeking treatment for PTSD was 254,930. The number nearly doubled in 2010, reaching 408,167 veterans seeking treatment for PTSD, and that number is expected to grow again as 40,000 troops return home by the end of 2011. While yoga, meditation, and acupuncture have all been successful alternative PSTD treatment options, none is proving to be as effective as psychological service dogs.”
Whether in official ‘service’ or not, a dog’s love is so unconditional and expressive, one cannot deny the effects on the heart and soul. I cannot keep a dry eye when I watch the following videos of family dog reactions when their service member returns home. Here are a couple of many. Apparently I am not alone, because this first one has over 11 million views, and I’m sure there are others besides me who watch them more than once. The heart pours open and is touched, whether we want it to or not.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD3cgDRsDck (compilation of many videos)
It is time for me to go sit with my little dog. Enjoy this week and give thanks to all the Dogs in Service to those in need (we could all use some Dog Love!). Dog Bless You.