Advertisement

Service dogs helping veterans and first responders cope with PTSD

Service dogs helping veterans and first responders cope with PTSD
WATCH: Audeamus service dogs aiding veterans and first responders who deal with PTSD.

It’s a therapy session for soldiers and their fury friends.

It’s part of a new research program for Audeamus, pairing service dogs with veterans and first responders battling with PTSD.

“There is a lot of one-on-one work that is done for that person and that dog to trust each other to go into more challenging environments,” said assistant dog trainer Colleen Kidd.

Michael Richards has been with Audeamus for three years.

READ MORE: Sask. snowmobile enthusiast using the platform to help others and himself

He says his dog Felix knows when to jump into action and get his mind back on track.

“If I’m anxious, sad, angry, any kind of emotion, ” Richards said. “He will recognize that and he will jump on me. At that point I realize that I should calm myself down.”

Story continues below advertisement

Audeamus’s reach extends across the country and helps roughly 120 people in total.

It received $1.4 million in November as part of the program headed by the University of Saskatchewan.

The dogs and humans are matched based on personality.

Audeamus co-founder and executive certified head trainer John Lohnes says this is the second project they are doing with the U of S.

He says the research on this project has just begun.

“We are in the early stages of that and that would entail working with 30 vets (from Saskatoon and Edmonton).”

He said as they go along they will augment the program based on the findings with what works.

READ MORE: Pair of U of S students doing their part to save bees

Kidd says the goal is to help more veterans and first responders in need down the road.

“The connection between the dog and human is just the beginning,” she said.

Tweet This

“That connection is going to become a broader sense and meeting with other teams and becoming a sense of community.”

For Richards, the experience has been life-changing.

Story continues below advertisement

“My life is totally different,” Richards said.

“I’m doing a lot of things I have never done before. It’s because of my doctor and this organization and Felix of course.”

U of S student-led team about halfway to launching satellite into orbit
U of S student-led team about halfway to launching satellite into orbit