Purple Paws for Purple Hearts is a program run by the Bergin University for Canine Studies. It is a training initiative designed to help foster a fraternity between soldiers by providing an outlet for returning servicemen and women who are suffering from psychological damage such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These soldiers help train service dogs who will then be used to help physically disabled veterans. Not only do the psychologically damaged soldiers get to work with loving, trusting animals, they get the joys of knowing that they are helping their fellow veterans in the process.
The Training Process
The first step is providing the returning veterans with the necessary skills and knowledge so that they can go on to begin training dogs. They are taught over 90 commands which they will in turn teach to the dogs under their tutelage. The program also takes advantage of the inherent training skills possessed by men and women who have served in the United States military. They have honed their abilities to train and be trained during their time in the military, and can bring that background to bear on training four-legged friends.
These former soldiers suffering from psychological scarring find great comfort in the training of animals. It has long been known that working with animals can be an excellent treatment for the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Additionally, training the animals specifically for fellow veterans helps reinforce the values of military service and gives them a sense of purpose and duty.
Training these service dogs allows the traumatized veterans to experience the unqualified love and loyalty of the animals, which helps them reintegrate into society by providing them with a sense of worth and purpose. Working with the dogs and being part of something larger than themselves (as the military was) helps ease the transition back into a peacetime society, and allows them to practice the emotional regulation that will be required to find their place in a non-military world.
The Other Side
Once they have finished their training, the dogs go on to help provide a quality of life to physically damaged soldiers. The dogs are trained to open doors, fetch items, retrieve dropped items, and pulling wheelchairs. The dog accompanies its owner everywhere, providing the former serviceman or woman with a degree of independence. But in addition to their practical benefits, these dogs also provide an amazing life bond with their injured veterans, providing them with the unconditional love and devotion that only a dog can provide.
For more information about training dogs, visit houstonveterinarianclinics.com.