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Warrior Canine Connection Pairs Wounded Vets With Dogs

by Staff

in For Our Pets, Healing

Thanks to advances in medical technology, U.S. soldiers are coming home with wounds that would not have been survivable 30 years ago. The unfortunately downside to this is the fact that they have to learn to adapt to life in a wheelchair, with prosthetic limbs, or with traumatic brain injuries. Just as a person with blindness would have a seeing eye dog, or someone with cerebral palsy would have a canine companion to help out, the Warrior Canine Connection is training dogs to assist wounded U.S. soldiers.

The training process takes 18 months, and since not every dog has the temperament to become a service dog, some do not make it through the program and are instead adopted out as pets. For the ones that graduate from the Warrior Canine Connection’s training regiment, they go on to serve a necessary component of the rehabilitation program for wounded veterans.

The Warrior Canine Connection was started in October of 2011, and trains both Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers to be specialized service dogs for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other medical problems. Each training session lasts 18 months, at which point the dogs are placed with a veteran in need. On top of this — they are also trained by veterans who have these medical problems through a joint program with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Studies have shown that service dogs do more than just pick up items that have been dropped on the floor and help pull veteran’s wheelchairs when needed — they also boost the levels of oxytocin in their master’s bodies, help relieve both social anxiety and generalized anxiety, and lower their levels of stress. All of this helps soldiers with PSTD, as well as other medical disorders. The veterans who train the dogs benefit from all of this as well, making the process twice as helpful.

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