Save a Dog – Help a Veteran & improve the lives of both for military & emergency services veterans with PTSD
It is easy to forget, that those who serve on the frontline, be it at home or abroad, often see and experience awful things so that you and I do not have to.
But this bravery does come at a cost for some and they need your support.
donate today via ServiceDogsUK.org
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the brain’s response to an extremely traumatic experience or experiences, assistance dogs can help people cope with this disabling condition.
For those in the armed forces it is often triggered by being in combat. For those in the emergency services it is can be triggered by life-threatening experiences, having to deal with road side accidents, or domestic and child abuse cases. They can be situations where the person feels intense fear and/or helplessness.
People who suffer with PTSD can have various symptoms that makes life very difficult and disabling- just because you cannot see the injury doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Typically, sufferers will experience or feel anger, grief, flashbacks, guilt, despair, fatigue, depression, emotional numbness, sleeplessness, loss of trust, feeling overwhelmed, fear, work/family problems, frustration, insecurity, self-doubt and suicidal thoughts.
Dogs really help!
Research is currently being carried out in both the US and Canada looking into the benefits of dogs in terms of mitigating the symptoms of PTSD. The UK Congress is backing this research, however, the UK is still some way behind.
Dogs are able to ‘draw out’ even the most isolated people. Through engaging with a dog, veterans are able to overcome emotional numbness and lower social barriers; it is much easier to talk about dogs then it is about yourself! Through training a dog, veterans develop new ways to communicate without anger or paranoia. In some research, it was shown that veterans, were also able to sleep again knowing a dog was ‘looking out for them’. By bonding with a dog emotionally, veterans feel more able to be out in the world to engage.
Noted for veterans and service members (with PTSD) who are involved with service dogs.
- Increase in patience, impulse control, emotional regulation.
- Improved ability to display affect, decrease in emotional numbness
- Improved sleep
- Decreased depression, increase in positive sense of purpose
- Decrease in startle responses
- Reduce anxiety & lower blood pressure
- Decrease in pain medications
- Increased sense of belonging/acceptance
- Lowered stress levels, increased sense of calm
Having a dog means working as a team! Our dog-human partnerships rely on each other and support each other on a daily basis. Going out provides an opportunity to socialise and interact with others. A trained assistance dog will also be able to perform specific tasks that will make life easier for the veteran.
What our dogs can do
Once dogs are trained they can do many things. Practical things like fetching items and other ‘classical’ assistance dog tasks to other tasks that help someone with PTSD. Our dogs will also be trained in more ‘specific’ tasks for the particular veteran, they also provide many benefits by just being a dog!
- Dogs wake you (in the night), nudge, lick & calm you.
- Dogs give you a non-judgemental friendship and comfort.
- Dogs can distract you when you feel tense.
- Bonding with a dog releases the hormone oxytocin in the brain which impacts positively on trusting and empathy abilities – allowing for a sufferer to engage more in social activity.
- Dogs can create a subtle barrier in public allowing the partner to feel safer or take the person to a quieter place.
- Dogs can recognise stress and anxiety and can redirect the person to more positive activities such as petting.
- Dogs provide a routine and provide a purpose to go out.
We want to tell you about our exciting charity, Service Dogs UK, which provides veterans from the Armed Forces, Emergency Services, who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with specially trained assistance dogs from mainly rescue!
We, together with the veteran, train dogs to the highest standard with the goal of achieving ADI (Assistance Dogs International) accreditation, meaning they will have public access and can be with the veterans at all times.
We continue to support these partnerships as part of our ongoing commitment to ‘those who serve’, past or present.
We’re committed to raising awareness of PTSD as a significant danger to our veterans through our activities and education.
We are also researching and developing ways of improving ways of improving the lives our injured service people through the interaction with dogs and the therapeutic benefits that this provides.
Why rescue dogs
We feel that our veterans will have an empathy with rescue dogs.
They know what it is like to be in a difficult and sometimes desperate situation. Now, they can change a dog’s life for the better and change a dog’s life for the better and change their own lives at the same time.
Doing something positive is a very powerful feeling! Rescue dogs, like veterans with PTSD, have their ‘battle’ scars and being able to help each other empowers both.
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