For Desert Storm veteran Dan Sperry, his labradoodle named Awescar is not just any dog, reports Samantha Wright of Boise Public Radio. Awescar is a specially-trained service dog that helps Dan cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which causes Dan to suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and debilitating headaches.
Awescar has been trained to recognize when Dan is in distress. His presence provides Dan with comfort when he is nervous or upset. In addition to emotional support, Awescar provides physical support, such as opening doors and acting as a brace when Dan is unsteady on his feet.
Like so many who suffer from PTSD, and are fortunate to have a service dog, Dan is extremely grateful for his four-legged companion. Awescar has made a world of difference in Dan’s life.
Service Dogs of Virginia trains dogs to assist children who have physical and mental disabilities, including children with autism. The specially-trained dogs have had a profound effect on autistic children and their families.
The organization, which operates almost solely on donations, trained an autism service dog named Robin for seven-year-old Nathan Gunderson. Nathan’s mother reports that immediately upon interacting with Robin, Nathan’s world expanded. Nathan is now more talkative and socially engaged.
Click here to learn more about Service Dogs of Virginia.
Service dogs have proven to be invaluable in helping wounded soldiers cope with physical disabilities. However, there has been controversy regarding the effectiveness of service dogs assisting veterans cope with psychological wounds, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
While many veterans and service dog trainers strongly believe properly-trained dogs can provide invaluable assistance, the Department of Veterans Affairs has be reluctant to provide service dogs to those suffering from PTSD. As a result, veterans are having to explore other avenues, such as donations and fundraising, to acquire service dogs.
When we think of a dog being trained to help someone who has a physical disability, we commonly think of a “seeing-eye” dog to help a person who is blind or has diminished sight. However, a dog can be trained to assist those who have other disabilities, such as hearing deficiency.
A “hearing-ear” dog will be benefiting music teacher Sophie Brentwood, who suffered hearing damage. Her four-legged companion will assist her in her daily life by alerting her to sounds that would otherwise go unnoticed. The specially-trained dog will make her aware of everyday sounds, such as a doorbell, to sounds related to a possible life-threatening situation, such as a fire alarm.
It is well documented that dogs have an incredible sense of smell. When properly trained, that natural sniffing ability can be channeled to provide invaluable assistance in making our lives better.
For example, a dog’s keen sense of smell can be trained to detect very subtle changes in a person’s blood sugar level. Such a talent can greatly improve the quality of life for a diabetic by providing an early alert and, thereby, hopefully avert a possible medical emergency situation.