Warriors Lives Changed
As expert service dog trainers, Paws for Purple Hearts knows first hand the power of dogs. After all, every day we see how working with service dogs changes lives. Among the many lives PPH dogs have touched, here are just a few.
PPH Service Dogs in Training Give New Hope
Steve’s story is hard. But it shows why Paws for Purple Hearts is so powerful. It also shows the healing that results from training future service dogs for a life of service to help a fellow warrior.
While in Iraq, he befriended two kids. And because of this, the kids were murdered. Hung from a tree for all to see. That sight. Those two, lifeless kids. His little friends, hanging from that tree. In essence, that sight will never leave him.
After his release, Steve came home to his wife and child. At first, things were okay.
Life Went from Bad to Worse
Then his second child was born. All at once, seeing is own two kids took him back to that sight. Those two kids from the war. Over and over and over again. It’s like he couldn’t shake that memory.
And then every time he looked at his own two kids, that memory haunted him.
Over time, he could no longer cope. As a result, Steve started drinking and then getting into trouble. Which then led to the breakdown of his marriage. Next, came jail time. His haunting memory, thus, destroyed his life. Of course, this story is not uncommon for warriors with post-traumatic stress disorder, called PTSD.
Paws for Purple Hearts Changes Everything
Steve then got involved with PPH and it was the beginning of recovery.
Little by little, he started to warm up to the little service dogs in training. After all, it’s impossible NOT to warm up to them. Then slowly, he started to get back into life – the isolation and the emotional numbness started to subside.
Working and caring for the service dogs in training turned his life around. Steve then stopped using illegal drugs. Finally, he started to feel positive again. His depression similarly lifted. After that, he no longer needed prescription drugs.
PPH made all the difference. Working with the special PPH trainers and service dogs in training helped him regain purpose. Oh sure, Steve still has challenges. But he’s able to cope now. He’s able to live and enjoy his own two kids – which wasn’t possible before PPH.
Dogs Help Create Positive Emotions
Veteran Jason suffers from trauma. Like many from the war, he struggles with PTSD and TBI. Because of this, he sees a social worker and a psychiatrist. As part of therapy, both suggested working animals.
But there were no options. Then PPH came to Fairbanks. Jason could finally work with service dogs in training.
Fairbanks, Alaska Welcomes Paws for Purple Hearts
Then PPH Fairbanks opened its doors. PPH, in turn, opened new doors for Jason.
But he still has difficult days. On days his PTSD and TBI severely affects him, he does not want to go to his PPH sessions. But then Jason forces himself to go.
It’s because he knows his session is important. After all, working with service dogs in training improves his mood. To put it another way, that one hour changes his whole day for the better.
PPH Dogs Boost Attitudes
As Jason says, “It is amazing what working with the dogs can do to one’s attitude and emotional state. My favorite part then is just being able to learn how to train service dogs for other veterans. So I highly encourage this program to other veterans.”
On the whole, Jason looks forward to the future now. In addition, he looks forward to PPH’s new, larger facility in Fairbanks. When it’s done, he plans to get more involved. He wants to work with service dogs in training to help other veterans and service members.
Jason F., Retired military, diagnosed with PTSD and TBI.
The program helps not only the Veteran who receives the dog as theirs, but it also helps our healing process while we train them.
One of my treatment goals was to get better sleep. Having Lief let me feel safe, and I started sleeping better. She actually woke me from a nightmare, too... My anxiety level went down. I was not so hypervigilant when I had her.
Webb was so much help to me while I was recovering in the VA Menlo Park.... When both King and Webb came to visit, I was in heaven as I have two Bernese Mountain dogs that I hadn't seen in weeks.
Ethan, a PPH dog, showed me there is love and happiness, outside of grief and despair.
PPH was the best therapy for my husband and it brought him closer to me and our daughter
There's only one word for my PPH dog Ollie: Priceless!
Our PPH facility dog's impact has been substantial. The fact of the matter is that he boosts moral for the employees, keeps us sane, and the clients love working with him.
“Learning to be more patient and understanding. How dogs think helps me improve on trying to understand others.”
“Working with the dogs gives me piece of mind and helps me control my anxiety issues so I can lead a more productive life.”
“When I was working with Paul (dog), I stayed calm and was less irritable and more focused and open to treatment at Menlo Park VA.”
“The training helps me lower my stress level and blood pressure. The comfort I get from the dogs far out weighs the thoughts of suicide. Not one negative thought has entered by mind since I started training with the dogs.”
“The comfort of the service dogs distracts from negative thoughts.”
“The dog Leif helped me with my self-esteem. People noticed a difference in when I had her and I’m grateful to Sandra for letting me be a part of this training.”
“I looked at this program as a privilege and honor to be a small part of a dog’s life and knowing I was helping a fellow Vet.”
“The program gave me a sense of responsibility and helped me lower my isolation.”
“The Paws for Purple Hearts program gave me a renewed sense of purpose. I was “giving back” and helping another Vet who was not expecting anything in return. It helped me with anger, self-esteem and survival guilt.”
“Many of our Veterans report that the dogs help them ‘get out of their own head’ and be more present.”
“These dogs can really sense your mood. They know when you’re having a bad day. They give you companionship without judgment. Ibarra (dog) doesn’t need to know why I have the symptoms I have. He just wants to be with me.”
Work with Service Dogs in Training and Find Purpose
Like many war buddies, KB came home with PTSD. And similarly, he didn’t want to talk about the war. Not with his family, anyway. But it clearly affected him.
Instead of talking, KB acted out his negative feelings.
From Isolation to Community
That is, until he got involved with PPH. When he began sessions working with service dogs in training. This positive, drug-free type of therapy then changed everything for him.
While there, he’s feels community. He is eager, as well. It’s additionally something he wants to do. Every week, too. PPH hence gives him a place to make friends. In other words, it’s a place to belong.
And KB made real friends at PPH sessions. Together with others like him, he shares his feelings. His friends from Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy, after all, understand first hand. Thus, KB feels support he’s does not experience anywhere else.
Best of all, he feels that working with service dogs in training is productive. In addition, he helps not just anybody, but a fellow warrior. So he feels even better knowing he helps another comrade meet similar challenges.
PPH is Also Great for Families
It’s equally exciting for families. They finally see something positive from their loved one’s pain. A diagnosis of PTSD, therefore, is not necessarily always a life sentence. Since working with service dogs in training, families see PPH heal wounded spirits. So in the end, the whole family benefits.
All in all, PPH truly helps reduce the stigma of trauma-related conditions. PPH obviously builds community. The dogs and PPH staff uniquely add so much to the area and everyone’s lives. Definitely, Canine-assisted Warrior Therapy should be available to anyone who needs it.
Overcome Challenges from War
You got me @ paws. Seriously. Being an Iraq war veteran, I also get firsthand what it means to be a vet. And I know the challenges from war. And how much dogs help.
My dog Jasmine especially. After the fact, of course! Jasmine helped me transition back to civilian life. Back to reality in a way no other human could help. So I gladly donate $5,000 to Paws for Purple Hearts.
And that’s because it works, hands down!
We Need Your Support
Donations to Paws for Purple Hearts can change a warrior’s life from hopelessness to optimism.
Your generous, tax-deductible donation helps thousands of warriors facing the visible and invisible wounds of war. Our Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy helps them heal as they help others – all with the goal of raising top tier service dogs for veterans and active duty service members with mobility and trauma challenges.