A dog by your side is a loyal companion and a best friend for life. As our military members come home, many return to face a new battle, a life with “invisible wounds.” Thanks to our recent partnership with Warriors’ Best Friend Foundation, dogs like Charlie are being trained and transformed into service dogs for veterans needing their important care.
Charlie is one of several dogs that was carefully selected from Great Plains SPCA and entered into a six to eight month service training program through Warriors’ Best Friend. “(Charlie) is very focused, very smart and very interested in people,” Samantha Jeffers of WBF said. “That made him a great fit for our program.”
Charlie came to Great Plains SPCA as a stray in 2016. During his time at WBF, the 3-year-old Irish wolfhound mix has learned 25 commands, including specific commands to care for a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury: commands like under, block, cover and brace.
“He will stand parallel in front of his handler, creating a space between his handler and everyone else. That’s helpful for a veteran that’s going into a crowded space,” Jeffers said as she explained the ‘cover’ command. “That gives them space to feel comfortable and safe.”
Charlie is almost finished with his training, and he will soon join more than a dozen dogs that have gone through the reputable program. Because others chose to believe in his capabilities, Charlie will not be homeless. Instead, he will be home base for a solider.
“(Dogs) provide what medication can’t and they pick up on behavior you don’t realize that you’re doing,” Jeffers said. “They come very in tune with their handlers emotions.”