Creating the Facility Dog Team
Client training is one of the most important and also enjoyable things we do here at Paws for Purple Hearts. Matching people with their perfect canine partner is a truly amazing experience. It includes a great deal of learning about the human-canine bond. Dogs are not robots. They have feelings and they can make mistakes. It’s important to learn how to help your partner, be they human or canine. Have you noticed at home that your dog follows you around, nudges your arm for an ear scratch, or jumps for joy when you come home? That is the bond you created with your dog. That bond is created by positive reinforcement and training, spending time with your dog, and lots of treats and play time. Building a bond and forming a relationship is so important because once you understand what your dog needs, you both are rewarded with a more fulfilling life together.
Lori, a social worker for the San Jose VA has been waiting a long time Ralph. And because of the overwhelming support of the San Jose VA, we had not just one, but two secondary handlers to help manage their new canine partner. During the two week training course they learned over 40 commands they can use during therapy sessions to help Veterans. The commands they learned include “nudge“ – utilized to interrupt anxiety behaviors, and “lay on” and “lap” – helpful to provide deep pressure therapy to Veterans who need some therapeutic comfort.
One of the best moments of client training was when Lori found out who her “furever” partner was going to be and also when each course participant was matched with the dog they were going to be working with for the rest of the course. PPH partners people with the best match possible, using factors such as the personalities and social styles of the human and the dog. There is also a lot of work that goes into determining which dog will be best suited for fitting into their new human’s everyday life. Ralph seamlessly fit into Lori’s life and from day one they had an unbreakable bond.
Enjoy this video to see highlights of these past two weeks!
Ralph started as a puppy at the Menlo Park site where he provided therapy to Veterans with PTS, TBI and MST. During Ralph’s training, he positively impacted over 200 Warriors hailing from a variety of locations from Alaska all the way to San Diego.
Ralph was trained not only by the PPH Program Instructors but also Warriors in the Canine Assisted Warrior TherapyⓇ Program. This therapeutic method helps Veterans with trauma related conditions to reduce their symptoms by engaging them in the preparation and training of service dogs for other Warriors. It is great to know you’re helping prepare and train a service dog for a comrade. Ralph just started his first week at the San Jose VA Clinic and he is already helping Warriors in need.
If you missed his graduation you can check out our video on the Menlo Park Facebook Page
Grateful For Our Volunteers
We couldn’t have done it without the help of our volunteers who donated and/or brought food during the client training and graduation ceremony. A special note of thanks to Dulce L. for donating a week stay at her Airbnb for two of our San Diego PPH employees so they could help with the client training. And thank you to Ewa Samples Photography for donating time and amazing artistic skills to capture these two weeks of client training and graduation.
If you would like to volunteer check out your nearest PPH site. If you’re not able to volunteer, you can still make an impact by sending a donation to help us accomplish our mission.