Monday, March 15, 2010
IT MAY NOT BE SCIENCE
Saturday afternoon I had a lengthy phone discussion with a soldier about how Penny's from Heaven Foundation, Inc. is often thwarted in its efforts to help our veterans with PTSD. We agreed that it may be the lack of scientific data and/or studies backing up what we already know - that certain intuitive and sensitive dogs are able to assist some soldiers with their ongoing battles with PTSD.
Not judging, or feeling sorry for, or turning away from a soldier who has lost his face, legs or arms is difficult and unnerving for some and for those who quite simply do not 'get it.' Understanding that these soldiers are not defined by their appearance, disabilities, or visible or invisible wounds is easy for our PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN FOUNDATION/SOLDIERS' ANGELS SUPPORT DOGS. They simply do not care! They see with their hearts. They see love, compassion, angst, grief, sorrow, courage, determination and yes even fear. As these dogs, softly and purposefully, lay their heads on soldier's laps, the warmth of the dog, and this moment, permiates into a place most of us can only imagine. A place where there is peace and comfort and tranquility, if only for a brief time.
My friend understands. You see he has PTSD. You can feel it in his face, his smile, his eyes, his body language and in the air around him. He faces demons daily, hourly. He struggles, and he will survive. He will survive because he is meant to. He has a purpose and an ability to help others in the same situation. His voice is calm and knowledgeable and sincere and safe and wise beyond his years. His demeanor is decisive, resolute, focused and decided.
As we discussed the fact that there is little to no scientific data regarding the comfort and reality provided by therapy dogs, service dogs, comfort and support dogs, psychiatric support dogs and even household pet dogs with soldiers struggling with PTSD, Jarod hit the nail on the head! "It may not be science - it may just be God."
Okay, I'll go with that, because I believe it. But the question remains how do we get the medical community, the Department of Defense, the VA, etc. to buy into this? Perhaps the thinking is that these are young, strong, courageous men who certainly should not, could not possibly find comfort in a mere dog. But they are wrong. There is much to be gained by finding reassurance, wellbeing, consolation and support in a dog. What are my statistics? What is my data? I have seen it work...over and over and over again. In fact, I will go so far as to say I have never not seen it work!
Being crushed, visibly and/or invisibly wounded, demolished by war brings the best and strongest to their knees. Having to hide barricaded in a closet all night for fear of 'enemy attack,' or shop at Walmart at 3:00 am because there are no crowds to judge or fear, or avoid a previous way of life, becomes a way of living for these young men and women. This doesn't have to be their legacy!!
We have yet to even begin to realize the healing abilities of dogs. But what I do know is that voices soften, fear disappates, smiles appear, war disappears, the need for drugs is diminished, and the softness and gentleness of a dog's head in a soldier's lap indeed "may not be science, it may just be God."
Not everything has to have an explanation, and isn't that what faith is all about? Isn't that what love is all about?
"I talk to him when I'm lonesome like; and I'm sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively , and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that."
~W. Dayton Wedgefarth~ From his poem "Bum"
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace."
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Please help us help our soldiers!