Thanks to my sister Ruthie’s love for dogs, we had the company of Fluffy and Whiskers during our childhood days. She fed them, bathed them, hugged them, and she taught them tricks and extraordinary acts like looking both ways for traffic before we crossed the street. She even taught Whiskers how to open the door for his master! When we were happy, they played along with us. When we were tearful, they sat beside us as the quiet comforter. Early on, my sister saw our dogs’ potential to bless others with their noble deeds.
This week, a hopeful story about service dogs coming to the aid of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, warmed my heart. It reminded of the remarkable nature my sister saw, and continues to see, in “man’s best friend.” The dogs are partners in a two-year study, along with the veterans, assessing how the man-dog interaction eases symptoms of PTSD. During the Vietnam era, the disorder wasn’t labeled, or even talked about. Thanks to education and awareness, today’s military commanders more readily recognize the signs, and that’s saving lives. The story’s featured veteran exhibited all the signs of full-blown PTSD: nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety attacks, feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thinking.
We owe a debt of tremendous gratitude to our veterans. The “Guardian Angels” program brings dogs and vets together, on a path toward healing old wounds. My sister will be so pleased to hear this story; as a child she knew that with love and training, dogs bless people’s lives. Through committed guardian angels and gentle service dogs, veterans hearts are being filled with HOPE again. Although PTSD isn’t erased, sufferers are finding relief that’s been long overdue. The program is showing that Huge Outcomes are Possible Everyday!
Hopefulness can be found in seemingly hopeless situations, especially with the help of caring organizations and man’s best friend. If you have a “Fluffy” or “Whiskers” in your life, give him a thank you hug today! And thanks reporter, Katie Tammen for covering a hopeful story.
Maryann Makekau ©2012