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Happy National Assistance Dog Week!

 In Facility Dogs, PPH Blog, Service Dogs, Specialist Therapy Dogs

Happy National Assistance Dog Week! Most people are familiar with the idea of Guidedogs for the visually-impaired, but Assistance dogs are also trained for a variety of life-changing tasks as well. We here at Paws for Purple Hearts, specially train our dogs over the course of two and a half years in how to alleviate the symptoms of a host of different disabilities, such as mobility issues and trauma related conditions in Active Duty and Veteran service members.

Mobility Service Dogs

Our Mobility Dogs give our Warriors with limited mobility greater independence by doing a variety of tasks that would otherwise be done by a caretaker. Mobility dogs are trained to retrieve specific items, such as canes and medications. They are able to flip light switches, operate doors, press buttons, and act as a brace for their owners.  We encourage our Warriors with mobility issues to Request a Mobility Service Dog Here.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Our Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained for Warriors with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD,) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI,) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST.) These dogs are able to recognize and mitigate symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety, and night terrors resulting from these conditions. They do this by picking up on the emotional state of their owner and interrupting negative thoughts without prompt, by leaning on their owners, nudging, and offering touch and pressure to calm.  Warriors are able to Request a Psychiatric Service Dog Here.

Specialist Therapy Dogs

Our Specialist Therapy Dogs are placed with mental health professionals in order to assist in patient treatment in clinical settings. They provide a calm, soothing presence that puts patients at ease and encourages them to open up more and engage in treatment. For instance, our dogs sensing when patients are feeling overwhelmed, will put their head in their laps and bring the patients back to the present moment. The simple act of stroking their fur lowers stress and gives a physical outlet while the patient processes their thoughts and emotions during therapy. Mental health professionals can Request a Specialist Therapy Dog Here.

Scotty Operates and Elevator
Scotty Operates and Elevator
Scout Shows Affection
Scout Shows Affection

Facility Dogs

Our Facility Dogs are paired with professionals at any setting where our Warriors would benefit from a Facility Dog’s presence, such as in hospitals and long-term care centers. The link between interactions with dogs and better health has been well studied. Petting dogs releases the “feel-good” chemical, Oxytocin, and stress hormones, such as cortisol, thereby reducing inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and speeds healing. Interested facilities are able to Request a Facility Dog Here.

Glen Gang is Happy to Help
Glen Gang is Happy to Help

Facility Dogs

Our Facility Dogs are paired with professionals at any setting where our Warriors would benefit from a Facility Dog’s presence, such as in hospitals and long-term care centers. The link between interactions with dogs and better health has been well studied. Petting dogs releases the “feel-good” chemical, Oxytocin, and stress hormones, such as cortisol, thereby reducing inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and speeds healing. Interested facilities are able to Request a Facility Dog Here.

Why Do We Do It?

Our Assistance Dogs train for two and a half years and cost up to $35,000 per individual dog, but this is time and money well spent. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, in August 2021, 4.9 million veterans, or 27 percent of total Veterans, had a service-connected disability. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Warriors who work with our dogs have shown an increase in self-esteem, a reduction in isolation, better quality sleep, increased positivity in moods, and a renewed sense of purpose in their lives.

How Can You Help?

Paws for Purple Hearts has improved the lives of over 10,000 lives to date. We provide our Service Dogs free of charge to our Warriors, but are only able to do so through the help of our volunteers and donors. There are many ways you can help. Stop by your local VA and ask them to contact us so we can inform them how we assist their Veterans in recovery. If you’re near one of our locations, please consider volunteering with us!  Monetary donations are greatly appreciated as well as donations of anything off our Amazon Wishlist! Please spread the word and tell the Warriors in your community how we can help them as well!

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