November 4, 2013 8:38 am
Updated: November 4, 2013 1:13 pm

Adopted SPCA dog becomes a PTSD companion


SASKATOON – A friendly, energetic dog named Annie was adopted from the Saskatoon SPCA and trained to be a post traumatic stress disorder service companion for veteran James Lajoie.

Lajoie and his fellow soldiers were offered a grim warning when they finished their mission in Afghanistan.

“The easiest way they explained it to us when we left was, some people stop running when they come home, and other people keep running,” he explained.

Lajoie kept “running”: carrying with him fear, trauma, and depression.

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“My only friend was alcohol really. I pretty much drank from the time I woke up to the time I couldn’t function, and then I’d do it all over again the next day.”

Lajoie found out about the Citadel Canine Society, a charity that finds rescue shelter dogs, and trains them as post traumatic stress disorder companions.

That’s how he met Annie, and now they’re inseparable.

“For a service dog, it takes six months of training, one hour a day, five days a week,” said Leigh Michel with the Citadel Canine Society.

“They recognize nightmares, they can be taught to know when his heart rate is increased…they can recognize road rage, if he’s having a hard time, she’ll keep pawing at him,” explained Michel.

“She’s going to help me get back into society and become a functioning person,” said Lajoie.

Annie will travel to B.C., where she will be tested as a fully-certified service dog.

“Citadel are moving to different cities throughout Canada, finding people who are interested in training the dogs,” said Michel.

The Saskatoon SPCA said often there are stigmas associated with rescue animals.

“We see people looking at, perhaps, SPCA dogs and cats might have baggage, or history that comes along with them, that may cause them to not be a desirable companion animal and that’s just absolutely not the case,” said Tiffiny Koback from Saskatoon SPCA.

The SPCA said many dogs like Annie are waiting to find a loving home.

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