Posted on March 11, 2009 · Posted in Brain Injury

In our firm we are confirmed believers in the benefit of canine companions. Our paralegal, Jayne, and her dog, Magic, recently completed their therapy dog certification and are well on their way to helping brighten up the days of nursing home residents in their area. Therapy dogs provide many services throughout our country. They visit hospitals, nursing homes and even participate in local libraries helping children develop reading skills. Dogs are all about unconditional love and compassion, a trait which benefits humans in many ways.

Now, therapy dogs are finding their way to Iraq to help soldier’s with the stress of war. The Veteran’s Administration has approved the use of canine officers to help our soldiers in coping with the trials and tribulations of deployment.

America’s VetDogs has served the needs of veterans since 1946. Originally providing service dogs for soldiers who are blind or visually impaired, they have expanded to meet the needs of many returning vets with a variety of services, free of charge. America’s VetDogs is a subsidiary of the non-profit Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.

In recent years, we have become more aware of the tremendous role therapy dogs can take in relieving stress in traumatic situations. Therapy dogs were on site on 911 providing a respite to distressed rescue workers and now, they are making their way to Iraq where their very presence eases the lives of the soldiers fortunate enough to enjoy their benefits.

PTSD has become a major problem for returning soldiers and what better way to circumvent the devastation to soldier’s lives than a visit by a K-9 officer? Whether it’s just a moment to bond with a dog or lighten the day with a game of fetch, the mental health benefits of interactions with canines is well-known. Dogs come pre-loaded with all the love, understanding and joy required to offset the dangers of war-time. Dogs are ready confidants and infinite optimists without agendas.

We often talk about troop morale. But with an ongoing deployment such as the one in Iraq, it is hard not to suffer from stress. Stress is not only situational but includes concerns about what is going on at home and separation from loved ones. A therapy dog brings with it a touch of home and a moment to forget the rigors of deployment. Many soldiers have befriended the stray dogs of Iraq and Operation Baghdad Pups endeavors to bring canine companions back to the states to reunite with their veteran buddies. VetDogs has acknowledged this need by deploying canines.

Though some have questioned the effectiveness of deploying trained therapy dogs, their success has been proven through their work with veterans across the United States. These highly trained canines can serve their country in many ways whether serving overseas or assigned to military hospitals in the USA. Regardless of where they are called into service they will provide a completely non-judgmental ear which will allow soldiers to combat the emotional difficulties of deployment.

Operation Baghdad Pups

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447