Monday, November 18, 2013


Our warriors return from the battlefield one day, quite literally to McDonalds the next.  They remain in the survival mode they were trained for, not knowing if the next breath might be their last. Military training and stress reaction have one big thing in common ~ survival.    How could we expect it to be any different?  Nothing is the same and they are lost in a world unknown and unfamiliar to them. They have endured hell.  They have seen and done things no human should have to witness or do.  They did this because of their love of country and family.  They struggle and fight to return to a land and a life they once knew and  family and friends they hope will understand. 
But unless you have endured and witnessed what they have, there is no way to understand. And there is no way to return to the way it once was. They find all too quickly there is no silver lining and new beginnings seem distance and something they will never attain. They hang on by a thread.  They feel defeated. They face arousal symptoms, they are unable to relax.  Jumpiness, concentrating difficulties suggest heightened physiological and psychological activation. They face mental replays and mental nightmares replaying events they can't forget. They shut off their emotions and the list goes on. They are often over medicated, find little to no relief in psychological treatment and they isolate. 

But then every once in a while a warrior finds life again and a peace he/she felt would never return.  This comes in the form of a dog, in most cases a dog who was destined for euthanasia. Almost instantly, a bond forms.  Perhaps it can be explained, perhaps not. 
But the only important thing is that it happens. Training begins for this team.  And in a few months a service dog emerges that has the ability to know, to understand, to sense, to watch, to become one with this person who distrusts   because he was taught to. This dog accepts the warrior unconditionally and slowly but surely changes take place.
It is a place of magic and mystery to many perhaps.  But to the warriors who have written me time and time again....they sincerely feel they would not be alive today without their dog, their best friend, that was rescued who quite literally in many cases saved their lives.  It is magic and it is mystery. And it isn't important to know how or why.  The only thing that is important is that it works.  It quite simply works.  We could analyze this forever, but the love and trust between the two is indeed changing lives and saving lives ~ both human and dog.
The pace that most of us keep finds that we seldom stop and really listen to people.  We seldom grant another person to express what is in their heart and respect and honor that.  But there is always room in our hearts for an honest love.  This honest love for warriors can come from a dog. Our warriors have felt out of place and lost, but with a dog by their side they begin to feel again and if they feel their is tremendous evidence that they are alive!
From More Dog Psalms by Herbert Brokering
I am dog, I long with all my heart.  I do not make valentines or send roses or write love letters.  But you can see these in my eyes, in my silence, in a bark whisper, a lick, a nuzzle, a loving whimper  My longing is like a love son.  The sound is beyond me; it is not my own.  I am silent so we both know, we both can tell, we are certain, there is no doubt.  I long; only you can satisfy my wish.  I am dog and my heart is insatiable.  You know when to hold my face close, whisper, see in me. My heart is full.  I give it to you the way dog gives. My valentine is bigger than my eyes show.  See my face.  You know longing. I am in your eyes.  Nothing will erase my longing."
A dog cannot salute our warriors like they salute the flag. But they can honor, respect, be great hearted and love to a depth most of us will never comprehend.  To a dog a warrior is their flag. To a warrior his/her dog is their life.

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