Sunday, October 3, 2010


Nelson Mandela has been quoted as saying, "It always seems impossible until its done."  For our wounded warriors in training for a Penny's From Heaven Foundation/TADSAW Support Service Dog, the feelings are the same.

Being present for our Train A Dog-Save a Warrior PTSD Support Service Dog classes held in the large gazebo at the Warrior Family Support Center at Brooke Army Medical Center is a huge gift and blessing. To be witness to our wounded warriors, struggling knee deep through physical pain and grueling anxiety,  as they work with their service dog-in-training, is humbling. I try to string the words together to explain these times, but I have learned to listen only to the action. 

Dogs learning how to work beside a wheelchair, walker, or cane, slowly and in tune with their handler, is inspiring.  Many of these warriors also have a Traumatic Brain Injury. This  more often than not is accompanied by short term memory loss.  Trying to remember the commands and implement them in a split second is not always easy.  But the underlying reality is that they want to succeed.  They want to learn.  They want this dog by their sides.  By their sides in the grocery store, a restaurant, a movie, anyplace.  They have distinguised that this is worth doing.  They know how they feel with this dog close by at all times.  They know the difference it makes.  So despite their physical pain and mental disruptions, they push through fearlessly.  A grimace every once in a while accompanied by frustration, turns these men into warriors once again.  They will succeed and they will win.  Their lives, to some very great degree, depend on it, as they appear to be waiting to wake up from the pain, from the night terrors, from the anxiety.  They too are no different than the rest of us.  We all need to feel someone cares deeply for us, no matter what. As Erik Hoffer said, "It is loneliness that makes the loudest noise." With a PTSD Support Service Dog by their sides, the dark places are illuminated and loneliness disappears. For with this risk there is much more to be gained than lost.

The rough edges slowly are smoothed out and the dog becomes aware, sometimes awkwardly, how to read his warrior's needs and commands.  They watch their faces closely for what is expected or required of them next.  But this doesn't all happen quickly or easily. There are definite distractions, but habitual movements alert the dog to what is needed. They are giving passionate attention to the details surrounding them.  Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but always they succeed.  For each step is a step toward success, because ultimately, they really have no idea just how beneficial this will be for them.

"No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made.  Destiny is made known silently." ~Agnes De Mille

For these Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Seamen that have come home from war with Post Traumatic Stress, recovering a sense of possibility, is all important. They have no payoffs for remaining stuck.  Nor do they want them.  What they want is to be rid of the demons that appear out of nowhere at anytime. They want a more normal existence.  With a PTSD Support Service Dog trained just for them, this can and often does become a reality.

"Look and you will find it - what is unsought will go undetected.

"Self control is about being in charge of the direction our lives are taking.  Now for the paradox: We get control of our lives, ultimately, not by will power but by surrender."
~Lewis B. Smedes 


To Sponsor a Train a Dog - Save a Warrior Project
Please send tax deductible contribution of $1,000.00 to:

It will make a dramatic difference in a life. 
K-9's - The Antidote to PTSD!

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