THE WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
It would seem that since the dawn of time the dog has been “Man’s Best Friend”. They’ve become such a part of our society that even colorful euphemisms have been adapted to include our furry friends like “Barking up the wrong tree” and “3 Dog Night”.
Dogs have also been vital to mankind for centuries, pulling carts with goods in them, herding and guarding flocks, locating the wounded after mass casualty battles during the World Wars, but the one that is striking up the most controversy lately is the “Service Dog”.
Let’s first look at a little bit of history on how the “Service Dog” actually came about and a look at the German Shepherd that paved the way for Service Dogs in America.
Before there were guide and assistance dogs, people with any type of disability–including visual impairment–were simply marginalized. There were no provisions for them to be in public or hold jobs–they were totally dependent on others for whatever they needed.
In 1927 The Saturday Evening Post ran an article by Dorothy Harrison Eustis, an American dog breeder living in Switzerland who was training German shepherds to work as police dogs. Though Eustis had been asked to write about her own program, she instead wrote about a guide dog program in Potsdam, Germany where the dogs were being trained to be the eyes for German World War I Veterans who had lost their sight due to mustard gas.
Prior to having a guide dog, Morris Frank, who lost the use of one eye in a childhood accident and the other in a boxing match at the age of 16, hired a boy guide but the young man “got bored easily” and occasionally left Frank alone to unexpectedly fend for himself.
Frank’s father read the article to him, and Frank, who was 19 at the time, wrote to the article’s author begging her to train a dog to help him. Eustis took on the challenge. She invited Frank to come to Switzerland and since she was new at the process, began working with two dogs so they would have a choice of which dog was going to work out better. Both dogs were female, and the one that proved most suitable was a German Shepherd named Kiss. Frank quickly renamed her as he felt a 20-year-old man should not own a dog named Kiss.
In 1928 Frank returned to the United States, disembarking from a ship in New York City. Buddy proved adept at guiding him through a throng of reporters and, on a dare from one of the newspapermen, Frank instructed Buddy to take him across West Street, which was filled with taxi cabs and trucks. Frank worried that he was expecting Buddy to handle more chaos than he had faced in training, but they made it.
Later that day, Frank sent a one-word telegram to Eustis: “Success.” And that was the beginning of Frank’s campaign “to get Buddy accepted all over America with no more fuss than if she were a cane.”
In 1936, Morris Frank sat down with The New York Times for an interview about his work on behalf of the visually impaired. At that point, 250 dogs were helping owners in the U.S. and Frank had logged 50,000 miles by foot, train, subway, bus, and boat to meet with people and demonstrate the life-changing aspect of having a guide dog.
By 1938, Frank knew that Buddy’s health was failing, but they had one more task to accomplish: Together, the two of them needed to be permitted to fly on a commercial airplane. That spring, on May 16, 1938, Frank, with Buddy lying at his feet, flew from Chicago to Newark. The trip was made under a newly implemented ruling by United Air Lines that “grants to all Seeing Eye dogs the privilege of riding with their masters in the cabins of any of their regularly scheduled planes.” You may read more about Morris Frank and his guide dog Buddy at SeeingEye.org .
The chains that bind to the Battlefield, that only omnipotence can break
An estimated 460,000 Veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These are chains that bind our Service men and women every minute of every hour, every hour of every day to the Battlefield. The Veterans Administration has resources to only serve a fraction of our Veterans.
“In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) added PTSD to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme. Although controversial when first introduced, the PTSD diagnosis has filled an important gap in psychiatric theory and practice. From an historical perspective, the significant change ushered in by the PTSD concept was the stipulation that the etiological agent was outside the individual (i.e., a traumatic event) rather than an inherent individual weakness (i.e., a traumatic neurosis). The key to understanding the scientific basis and clinical expression of PTSD is the concept of "trauma." States the Department of Veterans Affairs as also touch on the latest revision of the diagnosis. “The DSM-5 (2013), has made a number of notable evidence-based revisions to PTSD diagnostic criteria, with both important conceptual and clinical implications. First, because it has become apparent that PTSD is not just a fear-based anxiety disorder (as explicated in both DSM-III and DSM-IV), PTSD in DSM-5 has expanded to include anhedonic/dysphoric presentations, which are most prominent. Such presentations are marked by negative cognitions and mood states as well as disruptive (e.g. angry, impulsive, reckless and self-destructive) behavioral symptoms. Furthermore, as a result of research-based changes to the diagnosis, PTSD is no longer categorized as an Anxiety Disorder. PTSD is now classified in a new category, Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders, in which the onset of every disorder has been preceded by exposure to a traumatic or otherwise adverse environmental event.”
No matter how clinical the A.P.A wants to describe PTSD it’s very real, destroying families, relationships and in some cases is even the cause that some of our Service men and women take their own life.
Veterans and those that suffer from PTSD have found that a specially tasked trained dog can serve as a life saving tool and friend on the road to recovery.
A P.T.S.D Service Dog is trained to the specific needs of its handler; example: some Veterans may not have night terrors, while others suffer nightly from them. Professionally task trained PTSD Service Dogs should be able to perform the following tasks and more for its handler:
“Clear” a house or a hotel room if the Service Dog team has been gone for awhile.
Turn on the bedroom light and wake his/her handler from a night terror.
Use deep pressure touch or a trained alert to calm his/her handler during an anxiety/panic attack.
Alert to his/her handler’s panic/anxiety attack, retrieve medication if needed and comfort his/her Veteran until the attack is over.
Watch his/her handler’s “6” (A method used to prevent people from startling the Veteran from behind).
Retrieve simple objects on command that his/her Handler has dropped.
Create space on command for his or her handler in a crowd.
If some gets too close, the dog on command will become a barrier between the person and his/her handler.
Create a sense of “Security” by sleeping in front of the bedroom door or “Patrolling” the house while their handler sleeps.
Lay in the bathroom in front of the door or in the hall while his/her performs daily personal hygiene tasks.
While there are a small handful of organizations that provide tried and true professionally task trained P.T.S.D Service Dogs, such as 22 PAWS, there are also organizations that see it as an opportunity to line their pockets. The difference between a tried and true professionally task trained Service Dog and a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” in some circumstances is a matter of life or death for some Veterans.
The ADA describes a Service Dog as the following “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State Attorney General’s office.” Please see ADA.gov/service animals for further information.
The Shepherd in my Bed
After 3 tours overseas, 1 in Iraq and 2 in Afghanistan along with almost 10 years of Honorable Service to his Country in the United States Army, Sean was released back to the civilian world, due to service related injuries.
Sean described his life as being fueled by alcohol and anger. He reached out to the VA for help and they gave him a half hour session with a social worker and a bottle of the latest drug that was supposed to help treat PTSD.
Sean had read articles about dogs helping Veterans with PTSD and was a canine enthusiast himself, however after searching through long waiting lists of organizations for Service Dogs and being turned down at animal shelters he lost hope and planned to “turn out his own lights”. Sean had one more option, which was responding to an add he saw in the paper, selling a 1 year old German Shepherd.
The young German Shepherd became Sean’s salvation, instead of his life being fueled by alcohol and anger, it was now filled with walks outside and trips to the lake. Today that young German Shepherd is in 22 PAWS’ training program and will be accompanying his handler to the Tom Rose School in July.
A good dog in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, and encourage exercise and playfulness.
The American Heart Association has even linked the ownership of dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.
Scientific studies have also found that:
Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
Playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
The statistics and vague description for a PTSD Service Dog by Government standards allowed Organizations to help Veterans with professionally trained tried and true PTSD Service Dogs. However, it opened up “Pandora’s Box” paving the way for bogus PTSD Service Dogs.
Veterans helping Veterans is what 22 PAWS is all about, not only are our Professional Trainers graduates of internationally recognized training schools, they are Veterans as well. Our dogs are held to a standard of excellence that has not been duplicated by any other organization, because these Service Dogs are being trained for their Brothers and Sisters in arms.
One Veteran in particular was almost in tears when he received notification that he was selected for 22 PAWS’ 2015 Scholarship Dog. Shane Stoller is a U.S Army Veteran, served his country honorably and continues to help his Brothers and Sisters in Arms every day as a member of Warrior Pointe’s unbeatable Crisis Team. However, Stoller himself was almost a victim of a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”.
A couple of Stoller’s doctors had asked him if he had thought about getting a PTSD Service Dog. The idea was foreign to him, but Stoller began searching for organizations that provide tried and true professionally task trained PTSD Service Dogs. He had fallen victim to the same thing that most Americans do, the organization’s website looked professional, they advertised that their dogs are “Free” to Veterans, and it was endorsed by a celebrity. So it has to be legitimate, right? WRONG. After awhile things just weren’t adding up so Stoller began digging through the fine print. The dog was not free and he would need to pay or raise money to fund the handsome sum of $6,200.00. The program argued with him and told Stoller that it would be “Free” to him if he raised the money. When Stoller asked what happens if he cannot raise the money the organization said they would “try” to help him raise the amount needed, however if the organization could not raise the money Stoller would have to pay out of pocket. Livid with the feeling of being deceived Stoller took it upon himself to protect other Veterans from making the same mistake and signing up for the program. It took a threat of contacting FOX News to get the owner of the organization to return Stoller’s phone call. After a phone conversation with the owner, the website and all other information was changed within the hour. What a price to pay, to escape “Retrieving Freedom”.
Stoller was surprised when a fellow Warrior Pointe member nominated him for 22 PAWS’ 2015 Scholarship dog. It was a wait that seemed like forever for the Veteran after his interview process with 22 PAWS’ Director. When the day arrived that Stoller received his letter of acceptance in to the 22 PAWS program it was as if a weight had been lifted and he knew that the next step on the road to recovery was obtainable.
Riley, half imported German Shepherd and half black Labrador Retriever had a special skill set that was noticed by 22 PAWS’ Director. The breeder agreed to give Riley up and Stoller’s service was payment enough for him. Riley was quickly named after a late friend of 22 PAWS’ Director, Riley Comstock who was a retired E.M.T and in his younger years a professional wrestler. Mr. Comstock was a German Shepherd enthusiast and rescuer with a heart big enough to fill his 6’4” body.
Riley stayed with 22 PAWS’ Training Director until he was ready to bond with his Veteran. Rex Hindson who is a U.S Army Veteran and Vhone Liche Kennel Graduate, volunteered his time and talent to train the two, Stoller and Riley, as a Service Dog Team.
After arriving home with Riley for his “bonding period” Stoller decided that the bees nest that had been hanging around needed to be demolished, so he put Riley in the house and headed out to the yard. When Stoller started spraying the nest the task quickly turned and the bees began swarming and stinging him. Riley watched from inside the house and when he saw his handler in distress he shoved the door open to run to Stoller’s rescue. Riley, began jumping on Shane and “Pushing” him as if to herd him back into the house to safety. At this point Riley had only been with Shane for less than 12 hours.
It had been a long day for Stoller and he was ready to crash. However, his hypervigilance would only let him sleep on the couch and maybe only for 4 hours every 3 days, Riley was about to make sure that would change.
Due to Riley’s size he could not fit on the couch comfortably with Stoller, so the two headed to the bedroom where he had rarely slept. When Stoller fell asleep Riley patrolled the house and it was Riley’s first night on the job, his mission would not be deterred, after patrol he would jump back in bed with his Veteran only to get up in another 30 minutes to do it all again.
A week after Riley’s arrival Stoller began to suffer from one of the many chains of PTSD, the “Night Terrors”. Riley quickly jumped to action, he had not been trained for an alert yet, but he knew his handler was in trouble. He began using both his front feet in unison pushing on Stoller as if he was performing CPR. When Stoller began to wake up Riley sprawled out over top of him using his body to “ground” the Veteran. After Stoller had fully woken up and began petting Riley telling him “I’m okay”, Riley then resumed as normal.
The next day Stoller contacted the Director of 22 PAWS and said “How do you pick these Dogs?” and then proceeded to divulge all of Riley’s work over the last week. The Director was not surprised, even considering the fact that Riley was only 6 ½ months old at that time. The 22 PAWS program was designed by professional Working Dog Master Trainers that use the oldest of secrets, especially when it comes to handpicking dogs for work.
Riley and Stoller are looking forward to their Task Training, Canine Good Citizen tests, and Public Access Training and Testing.
Training the Pick of the Litter
“It’s not about choosing the dog that looks the best or the one that “little Timmy” wants. It’s about picking the dog that displays the most natural abilities for the job and polishing it through proficient training.” Says Ron Barton who is a Retired US Navy MWD Master Trainer and Kennel Master, who is also a Master Trainer and Instructor for 22 PAWS. Ron Barton has trained hundreds of dogs during his career as a Military Working Dog Trainer at Lackland Air Force Base and has ensured the safety of some of our Nation's highest ranking officials with the help of his K9 partners. During his career Barton has had the chance to work and study with many world renowned animal behaviorists and psychologists.
“Many other organizations just train to the minimal standards, which is the dog is required to do 3 things that a normal pet does not do and calm their handler during an anxiety attack.” states Rex Hindson who is 22 PAWS’ Training Director. Hindson is a U.S Army combat Veteran and Vohne Liche Kennel training program graduate who has been training dogs for 14+ years “We start by deciding on a breed that the veteran has experience with and that is capable of doing the job. Some breeds just are not suitable for service dog work. After a breed has been chosen, the hunt for the right dog begins. Some things we look for in a puppy or dog, is its workability. We also look to see how the dog handles things like loud noises, barking dogs, People, changes in environment etc. After we have made a selection, we then introduce the dog to the veteran to make sure they have chemistry. In all cases we want to see the dog ‘choose’ the Veteran.” says Hindson who started his career in the Service Dog world 7 years ago by training service dogs for children with Autism. “Our testing is designed directly by our Master Trainers that have nothing except the highest standards for these dogs. Each handpicked dog is required to pass six, three phase tests. Not to mention every PTSD Service Dog in training is required to pass all 3 Canine Good Citizen tests and to do at minimum 1,000 hours of public access training with their Veteran before going on to final testing to become a PTSD Service Dog.” Hindson has participated in Schutzhund, trained Disaster Search and Rescue Dogs as well as dogs for Police departments.
22 PAWS has been labeled by many as creating “Legendary Service Dogs for America’s Heroes”. For more information on 22 PAWS you may visit 22PAWS.com or Facebook.com/22PAWS.
If for some reason or another you are unable to obtain a 22 PAWS Service Dog, we’d like to help prepare you with a list of questions to ask the organization or private contractor:
Do your Service Dog Standards meet and/or exceed ADI standards? 22 PAWS Answer: Yes, our standards exceed ADI’s standards set for Service Dogs
Where do you obtain your dogs? 22 PAWS Answer: When we are looking for breeders, we only choose pure breed dogs that come with a health guarantee. The reason behind this is to minimize the chance that the Veteran will experience a large vet bill or to avoid the emotional trauma to fix any genetic issues.
How do you test or What testing do you use to know if the dogs are Service Dog material? 22 PAWS Answer: Our trainers have a combined experience of 40+ years of hand picking dogs for a number of working purposes. They use testing and methods that were set forth by the Masters that trained them.
Do you require your Service Dogs in Training to go through all 3 Canine Good Citizen Tests? 22 PAWS Answer: Yes, and the Veteran is required to handle the dog during all testing.
What are your Trainers Credentials? 22 PAWS Answer: We pride ourselves in providing legendary Service Dogs for America's Heroes, therefore every trainer has credentials from a nationally recognized training program such as Vohne Liche Kennels or the Tom Rose School.
Will it be an Actual Trainer executing continual training with the dog or do you have “Apprentices” or “Students” that also train and handle the dogs? 22 PAWS Answer: We use REAL Professional Working Dog Trainers. When you get a dog from 22 PAWS it has been trained the whole way through the program by someone that is a credentialed trainer.
What does your program offer? 22 PAWS Answer: Hand Picked Dogs, Specialized Testing, Professional Working Dog Trainers, Handler Training, Breed Pairing and Home Preparation. 99% of our Trainers are Veterans. Your dog is not being trained by someone that learned about Combat or PTSD in a book. We also know that a Service Dog is the next step on the road to recovery, so we teamed up with Warrior Pointe to offer Veterans a Membership and help get them to take that first step back into society.
Can you provide me with a list of what the cost of the dog covers? 22 PAWS Answer: Yes, We will be happy to provide you with an invoice of what is covered in the price of the Dog.
What paperwork will I need to provide to apply? 22 PAWS Answer: We require that every Veteran fills out our application and returns it notarized with a photocopy of their DD214, Award Letter from the V.A and a Letter from their current Psychologist or Psychiatrist specifically prescribing a PTSD Service Dog.
If you charge for the dog, how do I pay? 22 PAWS Answer: Unfortunately, at this time we are only able to provide 1 Scholarship Service Dog a Year. The Scholarship Service Dog is designed for a Veteran that is working hard to improve him/her self and reaching out to help his/her fellow Veterans as well. We are not shy to say that we have to charge for our Service Dogs. However, we offer to divide the sum up into monthly payments to make it easier for fundraising…etc.
Who is 22 PAWS?
22 PAWS is a unique program designed by professional working dog Master Trainers to pair Veterans with quality professionally trained Service Dogs, not only just for Post traumatic stress disorder, but to help restore independence through the use of mobility dogs as well.
Even more than that, we support our Military and Veterans. 22 PAWS is deeply concerned about the fact that 22 veterans per day, that is almost one an hour, commit suicide. We know there is another way.
Not every veteran suffering from post traumatic stress is ready for a service dog. A veteran must decide if his/her lifestyle and living accommodations can support a new companion. Veterans who apply for a 22 PAWS service dog must be ready to assume the responsibilities of leadership, maintenance and support for their service dog; and be willing to take their dog with them wherever they go.
While dogs can provide comfort in others just themselves, they are NOT therapy. We expect the veteran to remain in active therapy with their primary providers, both before and after receiving their service dog. Veterans selected for our program must be ready for change, and not want to live another moment of another day suffering from the confines of PTSD. Before applying, ask yourself, or the veteran in your life, to make an honest assessment of these questions:
Are you able to focus outside of yourself and provide ongoing care for your service dog?
A common misconception about PTSD service dogs is that the dog is there to help you however, for that to happen, you first must learn how to provide leadership, take on responsibilities and ensure the safety of your dog. Are you ready for that responsibility?
Do you have the financial resources to afford the dog and its care, example: vetting and food?
Do you have the ability and capability to regularly exercise the dog?
Will you make a long-term commitment to maintain the proficient training required to ensure your service dog's skills?
Is everyone in your household supportive of you getting a Service Dog?
Do you understand that a Service Dog is another step on the road to recovery and not a "Cure"?
If you have answered “YES” to the above questions and would like some more information or application for a 22 PAWS Service Dog you may contact us at 22PAWS.com and facebook.com/22PAWS
Remember, The Four Paws Beside You are Mightier than the Task Ahead of You.