War Vets Heal With the Help of Shelter Dogs

by Canines With a Cause
Sergio
Sergio

Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend.” - Albert Camus

Social isolation is a problem with combat veterans returning home from Iraq and/or Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They tend to avoid people, friendships, social support, and emotional closeness. This escalates the on-going issues of loneliness and helplessness and ends up allowing more time to worry.

The unconditional love of a dog can be, in many situations, an answer. The dog doesn’t judge, or ask questions. It is simply there, providing a basic necessity that all of us yearn for – someone who loves us no matter what. The dog validates the veterans and gives them hope.

Canines With a Cause (CWAC) offers several programs for veterans to engage with dogs. The dogs in our program are rescued from local shelters, the veterans can relate as they know some of the dogs have seen their own war. Dogs receive some basic training in the Utah State Prison where they live and train with women inmates.

Dogs are then placed with veterans to continue their training, this creates a bond and partnership, the veterans learn how to be dog handlers. Leaving their homes and coming to class has proven beneficial for the veterans, no more isolation.

Moving into 2016, CWAC will be offering more programs to benefit veterans. Certified Dog Trainers are in demand, CWAC will be offering internship programs for veterans interested in learning dog training skills and getting needed hours of "hands on" training to work as trainers or start their own business. Helping other veterans is also a benefit.

All of our work is made possible because of your generous support, we couldn't save dogs or support our veterans without you.

Thank you!

Cathy King

Glory
Glory

Links:

soldier and dog
soldier and dog

Man's Best Friend-Comrades in War and Life

After returning home from his final tour in one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan, and the world, Cameron didn't know what he was going to do with his life. Twenty-five years old, he couldn't sleep, had flashbacks of comrades fallen, bleeding out and dying. He drank too much, didn't take care of his health and didn't care whether or not he lived or died. Then came Romeo...

"I adopted a young yellow lab, through CWAC. At first, he was so crazy and hyper. I often considered returning him, and giving up being his forever home. His name is Romeo. He saved my life. Keeping him was like deciding to live. Suicide was no longer an option. I needed him. He needed me. We toughed it out. Now we are better friends then I could have ever imagined. I thank CWAC for saving Romeo from a shelter, and indirectly saving me from suicide."

Dogs and war have a long history, veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan speak of the local stray dogs that keep them company and give them comfort on long, lonely nights. The dogs bark to alert them danger is coming or watch their back when out on a mission. They are trusted companions and have been throughout history.

War dogs have been around for ages, dogs on the battlefield, protecting their partners. As far back as ancient Egypt, dogs were used as both offensive and defensive forces. Some Egyptian murals depict dogs being unleashed on Egyptian warriors’ enemies. Similarly, the Greeks recorded a dog’s contributions on a mural celebrating the Battle of Marathon against the Persians. Written accounts by the Roman writers and historians Plutarch and Pliny exist, and Strabo, a Greek historian, described the dogs being “protected with coats of mail.”

Attila the Hun, William the Conqueror, and succeeding generations of English rulers and leaders; the Spanish conquistadors; Napoleon; and Frederick the Great, dogs have served loyally. A frequently cited example of war dogs and their loyalty is Napoleon’s writing in his memoirs, “I walked over the battlefield and among the slain, a poodle killed bestowing a last lick upon his dead friend’s face. Never had anything on any battlefield caused me a like emotion.” 

Dogs have a bigger purpose after the battlefield, helping veterans return from the war that continues to in their hearts and minds. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Researchers are accumulating evidence that bonding with dogs has biological effects, such as elevated levels of the hormoneoxytocin. “Oxytocin improves trust, the ability to interpret facial expressions, the overcoming of paranoia and other pro-social effects—the opposite of PTSD symptoms,”. Dogs also give unconditional and nonjudgmental love. They require food and exercise, getting veterans out and helping them regain their family and social lives. They give some veterans a purpose to live.

Canines With a Cause would like to thank the men, women and dogs who have served. We would also like to thank those who make our life saving programs possible.

Happy Veterans Day!

Sincerely,

Cathy

in the trenches
in the trenches
loyal friend
loyal friend
Justice
Justice


One of the veterans in our program was involved in the rescue of a German Shepherd called Justice, hoping he might make a good service dog for another vet. Now, a new veteran in our training program has signed the adoption papers for Justice, and is attending classes at CWAC to continue the dog's training. Finding a good dog for a veteran always takes time and requires patience, but a match always makes Dr. Lynne's job so worthwhile!

Finding the right dog for a veteran in the Canines With a Cause program is not an easy job. Shelter dogs need to meet certain criteria, have discipline and necessary skills to train and become a good working partner with their new person.

CWAC is lucky to have on the only animal behavior consultant in Utah affiliated with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) as our program dog evaluator. Dr. Lynne Gilbert-Norton was born and grew up in England and was always fascinated by animals and animal behavior. She has a BSc in psychology, an MSc in animal behavior, and a PhD in wildlife biology. Her expertise is canine behavior and learning in wild and domestic dogs, and includes studies on social status and personality; boldness and aggression.

Under the guidance of Dr Susan Friedman, a behaviorist with over 25 years of experience in animal training, she trained captive coyotes through shaping and positive reinforcement techniques. Her work is published in a number of scientific journals and she has presented her findings at conferences throughout the UK and the States.

Dr. Lynne works closely with local shelters and program veterans to find the right match taking activity level, size, temperament and other behavior traits into consideration to determine a loving, lifetime partnership. Dr. Lynne is a canine matchmaker!

Due to demand for service and companion dogs, which are NOT funded by the Veterans Administration, we depend upon the generosity of donors like you to fund our lifesaving programs. GlobalGIving's final Bonus Day of the year is on Wednesday, September 16th! Starting at 9am EDT, GlobalGiving will be matching online donations at 30% until the $70,000 in matching runs out.

Every dollar counts! Thank you for your support.
Sincerely,

Cathy

Dr. Lynne
Dr. Lynne

Links:

Bear & Leigh
Bear & Leigh

Our first GlobalGiving "project report" was posted on June 15, 2010, what an amazing five years we've had.

To date, we've rescued and placed over 300 dogs from local shelters, all of the dogs were spayed/neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and assessed for good health and behavior. Veterans adopting the dogs participated in free dog training classes to acquire the necessary skills to train their own dogs to service dog status.  

Dogs not interested in training found loving homes through our "Diamonds in the Rough" adoption program.

The Pawsitive Healing Program (PHP) was created in 2014 to assist veterans with high-level PTSD who struggle training a dog fresh from a shelter; jumping and other bad habits affect their PTSD in a negative way. As a means to pre-train dogs for these veterans, CWAC implemented the prison-based dog-training program in conjunction with the Department of Corrections. Dogs live and train in the Utah State Prison; inmates learn a vocational skill and benefit from having the dogs as companions while they train. This program also reduces boarding and training expenses making the program more cost effective.

To date, CWAC has trained thirteen dogs in the PHP program and will be expanding the number of dogs living and training at the prison. Since inception, three of the inmate trainers have achieved certification to oversee other inmates in the program. This will enable CWAC trainers to bring more inmates into the program and increase the number of dogs trained.

The benefits of this program are three-fold. According to the Salt Lake City VA Hospital, between 5-7 veterans are committing suicide weekly in the Northern Utah area. The Veterans Administration does not supply trained dogs to veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Over 18,000 companion animals were killed in Utah shelters in 2013. All dogs in the PHP program are rescued from local animal shelters. The inmates in the Utah State Prison training the dogs acquire skills necessary to support successful rehabilitation, reentry and a chance to give back, do something good with their lives.

CWAC is working on a new program to increase the number of dogs rescued and trained. “Pals With Paws” supports families who have a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. CWAC will provide well-trained, loving companion dogs from the “Pawsitive Healing” program. Dogs have been shown to lower stress for patients and caregivers. This program will also benefit siblings who often get lost in the shuffle during this difficult time.

We could not do the important work we do without the support from generous people like you. On behalf of the veterans who now have loving companions, the inmates who train them, and the dogs who now have a new leash on life, thank you!

Sincerely,

Cathy King

Glory Prison
Glory Prison
Captain
Captain
Mogli
Mogli
Glory
Glory

After more than 10 months of hard work, it was graduation day for two dogs and their inmate trainers at the Timpanogos Women’s Correctional Facility.

Sawsan Whitelaw and Haylee Cheek received certificates Wednesday as trainers in Canine Life and Social Skills (CLASS) for their work with the Canines With A Cause program at the prison.

It was a bittersweet moment, though, as the women had to say goodbye to the two dogs they and other inmates trained: Glory and Captain left for “finishing school” at a residential substance abuse treatment center. After four to six weeks there, they’ll be placed with veterans who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — the ultimate goal of Canines With A Cause.

The nonprofit launched its rigorous training program at the prison last April.

Glory and Captain both achieved “bachelor degrees” in behavior during their time at Timp, learning things all the best companion dogs know.

But they weren’t the only ones transformed during the process, said Capt. Maryann Reding.

Whitelaw had never had a pet and was apprehensive during her first meeting with Glory last spring. She didn’t touch the dog even when Glory sat right in front of her, Reding said.

“It’s changed her tremendously,” Reding said. “She’s done an awesome job.”

Another dog who graduated from the program — Liberty — went home with veteran Caleb Dunham last Thanksgiving. Four other dogs in the prison’s first class— Valor, Jet, Sierra and Sergeant — did not graduate but received good training and were placed for adoption.

There are just two dogs at the facility currently, but others will arrive this week. Some will stay for a 12-week basic training program, while the best of the bunch will continue in the veterans program.

Captain
Captain
Glory showing off sweater
Glory showing off sweater
Captain saying good-bye
Captain saying good-bye

Links:

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Organization Information

Canines With a Cause

Location: Park City, UT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.canineswithacause.org
Project Leader:
Cathy King
Park City, UT United States
$290,334 raised of $350,000 goal
 
6,210 donations
$59,667 to go
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