"Save a Dog. Save a Warrior."
That’s the mission behind the Kansas Humane Society’s new partnership with the Family Dog Training & Behavior Center.
The organizations teamed up to provide service animals to veterans in need by waiving adoption fees for KHS pets and providing the specialized training necessary for the dog to work as their service animal.
Having trained several service animals for veterans in the past, Janice Ronald, the owner of the Family Dog Training & Behavior Center, has seen first-hand the impact a dog can have on the life of someone struggling with PTSD.
“They’ve shown what a huge help dogs can be for them. They reduce stress and anxiety” Janice said. Adding, “They’re there for them when they wake up in the middle of the night. And they can help to lessen the symptoms of PTSD.”
While many of the dogs act instinctively to comfort their owners, the specialized training helps the dogs hone-in on the person’s emotional state, anticipate the veteran’s needs, and gain the skills they need to pass a “public access test” which allows them to accompany the veteran wherever they go. “The guys always say ‘make sure my dog’s got my 6’,” Janice explained. “They stand facing the opposite way so they know if someone comes up behind them. Or in an elevator, if they don’t like being in close quarters, the dog will actually stand in front and block other people.”
Aside from keeping a protective watch over their owner’s external surroundings, these rescue dogs can also tap into their owner’s inner turmoil and help to mitigate the stresses brought on by PTSD. “We teach them interruptive skills,” Janice said. “The dog will nudge, or put a paw up, or lay on them if they feel their stress level rising. They interrupt whatever is going on in their head and make them focus on the dog instead of what’s going on internally.”
And while the dogs give much needed solace to those in need of a friend, the veterans in turn are also helping to save the dogs, who are all in need of a home. “It’s killing two birds with one stone,” Janice explained. “You save a dog. And save a warrior.”
We're so grateful to be able to provide this much-needed service for veterans, and it wouldn't be possible without our sponsors Steve Nossaman and Lynne & Bill Tinker!