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Entries in Canine (3)

Tuesday
May292012

Wounded Warriors Helping Dogs Help Vets

Wounded warriors train service dogs to help other injured servicemen and women. (ABC News)(WASHINGTON) -- A group of disabled Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans has taken on an important mission -- training service dogs to aid other wounded vets on their road to recovery and beyond as part of a program just begun by the Pentagon.

Dogs like four-month-old puppy Cadence are part of a three-year training course that will eventually match them up to help wounded troops coming home who've suffered debilitating injuries such as loss of limbs.

Training man's best friends to assist those with physical disabilities has been done in the past -- but what's different about this program is that injured military vets do the training. And that training has had a positive impact on the trainers themselves -- giving them their own kind of canine therapy, as well as giving the dogs more specified training.

Sgt. Brian Bradley, who is training six dogs, lost his right arm in Afghanistan in 2010. He credits the program with helping him readjust to everyday life. And in return, he uses his prosthetic limb to better train the dogs to better understand the disabled soliders they'll be assigned once their training is finished.

"When I first got to the program last year, some of the puppies -- they were like, 'What is that?' They see the hook moving around and stuff," Bradley said. "I got other prosthetics, but they see the hook and we introduce that to them because they know they are going to be seeing it later. Also, we introduced the wheelchairs to them too and the power chairs."

Bradley believes that with disabled vets doing the training, the dogs will better serve wounded soldiers when they are done.

"When a service member gets a service dog from another company, most of those people are able bodied, have no issues, so they aren't really working around anybody who is disabled," Bradley said. "So we train them completely how every disabled service member would be."

The dogs in the program are trained to help out with everyday tasks like picking up wallets, money and credit cards to turning on lights and pushing automatic door buttons.

"I can open the door for myself -- but if I have a lot of stuff, he can push the buttons for me," Bradley said. "He can flip lights as well. I'll say 'light' and he'll jump up on the wall and he'll flip it. Sometimes he uses his paw, sometimes he uses his nose."

But they are also trained to help heal another kind of injury that plagues so many soldiers when they return home from war -- post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Mine kicks in every time I put on a new prosthetic that looks identical to my other arm," Bradley said. "It's like an instant memory of me actually losing my arm that day. So PTSD is there."

Specialist Cory Doane, who lost a leg in Afghanistan in 2011 when his vehicle was hit by an IED, says the program helps him even more than it helps the dogs he's training.

"It helped me a lot more than it's helped the dog for sure," Doane said. "It's nice just to get out and about again. Because, you know, after I was wounded I was kind of stationary for a bit. So it's nice to get out and actually do something productive, instead of just healing. It's nice to contribute back."

Those contributions -- from the trainers and the dogs -- are being recognized by the military community.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised the program and those who make it happen.

"To be able to have someone who can be close to you and be a part of you as you go through some very tough times, as you rehabilitate, as you come back and try to come back into society and have the company of a dog -- that is really a true friend because they don't question what you are doing, they're just your friend through thick and thin," Panetta told ABC News' Jake Tapper. "Having that kind of relationship I think is just great for the veterans who serve this country."

Panetta has his own canine friend, a golden retriever named Bravo, who has shown him the kind of difference a furry friend can make.

"We could not do our job of protecting this country without people like you who are willing to put their lives on the line," Panetta said to the wounded warrior trainers. "And I really appreciate your service and your sacrifice. I appreciate the effort to, you know, be able to have a dog help someone be able to lead a fuller life. In many ways that's what Bravo does for me in some very tough jobs that I've been in -- having the company of Bravo around and having him provide emotional support.

"Thanks for everything you're doing to help our veterans. We owe them an awful lot," he said. "I guess one of the ways we can repay it is to have them have the company of a dog."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr272012

Oklahoma Blind Dog Gets New Life with Canine Pal

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) -- Putting two dogs of different breeds and from different backgrounds together in a confined space will usually end up in a lot of bark and likely some bite.  Rarely does that pairing end up in the two pooches becoming an inseparable pair.

That latter, more unlikely scenario was just the case, however, with two young dogs in Oklahoma who not only built a friendship but also cured each other’s ills.

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Blair is a 1-year-old black Labrador mix brought to the Woodland West Animal Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., after she was shot while living on the streets.  After he recovered from his wounds, Blair remained at the clinic, a timid and nervous pup whose difficult history made her hard to place with an adopted family, the hospital’s director, Dr. Mike Jones, told ABC News.

Then there was Tanner, a two-year-old Golden Retriever puppy who was born blind and with a seizure disorder so severe he was sent to Woodland Hospital as a last resort after his first owner died and the Oklahoma City-based Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue organization that had assumed his care, was unable to find a family to give him the around-the-clock care he needed.

“His seizure disorder was really, really bad and nothing -- no medications -- seemed to be helping,” Jones said.  “Anytime he [Tanner] seizes he expresses his bowels.  It’s a nightmare anytime you have a 90-lb dog experiencing this nightly; it made living in a home very, very difficult.”

Tanner and Blair lived with their respective conditions until the two were placed together a few months ago in a chance encounter, first reported by local ABC affiliate KTUL.

“One day they were exercising in a play yard together and they got together," Jones said.  “Blair all of a sudden seemed to realize that Tanner was blind and just started to help him around.”

Recognizing the dogs’ immediate connection, hospital staff began to board Tanner and Blair together, and the results spoke for themselves.

Tanner had been seizing almost nightly, Jones said.  ”After two or three weeks, we realized Tanner wasn’t seizing anymore.  He’s not completely seizure free but it’s not constant anymore.”

“We’ve worked with a lot of different service dogs to provide these services for people,” said Jones. “But it’s the first time I’ve seen anything like this, the special relationship these two dogs have.”

The bond is so strong and instinctive that if Tanner has a leash on, Blair will pick it up and guide her friend around, according to Jones.  Likewise, he said, Tanner has had a calming influence on Blair, making the former street dog much less timid and anxious.

The next task is to find the two dogs a home together to continue their joint recovery.

“They absolutely have to be adopted together,” Jones said.  “But it’s going to take a special home with someone who understands their special relationship plus understands seizure disorder and is ready to take on the responsibility.”

The adoption search is being handled by the same Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue organization that brought Tanner to the hospital, a lucky decision that brought on the recovery process no one could have predicted.  The hospital has, to this point, taken care of Blair’s recovery through its own foster care account.

“The big thing about this is just finding the right home for Tanner and Blair, which is a very specific mission,” said Jones.  “This is not a typical adoption.  Tanner is only two-years-old.  We’re looking at probably ten years or so care for Tanner.”

Calls to the Sooner Rescue organization placed Friday by ABC News for comment were not returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Musher Saves Dog with Mouth-to-Snout

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RAINY PASS, Alaska) -- When Marshall collapsed on the Iditarod trail, Scott Janssen did what any good friend would do:  He stopped the sled and gave mouth-to-mouth CPR.

Or mouth-to-snout, as the case may be. Marshall is a veteran sled dog, and a personal pet of Janssen and his wife Debbie Janssen.

On Monday night, 22 miles from the next checkpoint at Rainy Pass, Alaska, the dog suddenly fell.

“Marshall was running really tight on the line, no problems at all, and all of a sudden, he collapsed,” said Debbie Janssen.

When Scott Janssen stopped the sled and grabbed Marshall, the dog wasn’t breathing, so he closed the dog’s mouth and began breathing into Marshall’s nose, all the while compressing the animal’s chest.

Scott Janssen had to administer mouth-to-snout twice, because after the first attempt, Marshall woke up but then quickly fell unconscious again.

The second time, Debbie Janssen said, her husband could see in his dog’s eyes that he was coming to.

“He looked at Marshall and said, ‘Come on! Come back to me!’” Debbie Janssen said. “And Marshall did. He came back. He started breathing.”

At 9 years old, Marshall is one of the oldest dogs on Scott’s team. He has competed in about six Iditarod races, and given his age, this was to be his final attempt.

After Marshall was resuscitated successfully, Scott Janssen tucked the pooch into his sled bag and then approached the front of the sled to reassure each dog with a quiet voice or a gentle hug.

“They were all freaking out,” Debbie Janssen said. “They’ve been a team and could tell something was wrong.”

The team then continued on to Rainy Pass, where Marshall showed no signs of stress, according to Iditarod spokesperson Erin McLarnon. Leaving Marshall with the Iditarod vet, Scott and his team of 14 dogs continued on toward the finish line in Nome.

Marshall is being flown back to Anchorage, where the Janssens own a funeral home.

Scott Janssen, who calls himself the “Mushing Mortician,” is competing in his second Iditarod. He trained with experienced musher Paul Gebhardt for four years. And it was Gebhardt who taught him how to perform mouth-to-snout resuscitation.

“It’s his dog,” said Debbie Janssen. "He loves all these dogs. He told me he couldn’t imagine Marshall dying in front of him.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio