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Veterans' Day 2017 - Help Me Help You

Posted by Christina Potter on

Each year on Veterans’ Day, Three Dog Bakery donates 15% of the sales of all TDB branded treats from every outlet to Friends in Service of Heroes (FISH). Established in 2013, FISH is a non profit organization dedicated to helping veterans. To date they have provided 13 veterans with service dogs. The donation made by Three Dog Bakery on Veterans’ Day goes towards supplying a veteran chosen by FISH with a PTSD service dog. In 2014 we raised $5,000. We raised $7,500 in 2015 and last year we raised $7,666. Our goal of raising $10,000 this year is ambitious, but it is attainable with a little help from our friends.

A post traumatic stress disorder dog requires highly specialized training. Once a dog with the appropriate temperament is chosen, he will be placed with a trainer. Ideally, training starts at six to eight weeks of age. The puppy will be introduced to some basic commands, such as sit, stay, down, settle, leave it and come. Training is done in a positive, consistent way. The puppy will be exposed to many different situations, to all types of sounds, and will be socialized with a variety of people. It is important to note that, even though he is socialized, he should not be overly sociable to the point that he will attempt to greet everyone he sees and lose sight of his job responsibilities. Training will involve being taken to public establishments, restaurants and shopping malls to learn social skills and manners. Once the basics are learned and the puppy matures a bit, more intense training will commence.

PTSD service dogs will be trained to perform precise tasks. These may include picking up objects, retrieving medicine, or merely coming close to a person to be held and provide comfort. They will learn leash manners and how to walk in a heel position. They will be taught to relieve themselves outside and on command. It is imperative that they learn to ignore distractions and focus on the task at hand. They will master these skills and will then be placed with their veteran - unless he was involved with the basic training as well. The veteran will continue to train side by side with his companion. Together they will learn to communicate with one another and the dog will further specialize his craft to the specific needs of the veteran. The PTSD service dog will be trained to mitigate the symptoms of his handler; night terrors, hallucinations, reclusiveness, general anxiety or whatever his needs may be. Along the way, bonding will occur and the two will become inseparable.

In most cases, service dogs complete their training by the time they are two years old. It is a long, arduous and expensive process. With the help of volunteers and the generosity of donations, such as those made by Three Dog Bakery, a post traumatic stress disorder service dog will forever improve the life of the veteran that is lucky enough to be paired with him.

If you enjoy Christina's writing, check her books out! She is the author of “Chester Gigolo: Diary of a Dog Star” and "Insider Training: Chester Gigolo’s Dog Training Secrets Revealed” for which she won the 2016 DWAA Captain Haggerty award for Best Training Book and the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Animals & Pets). She is also a contributing author to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors”. She has written multiple articles which have appeared in various international publications.