Dog T.A.G.S. Report
We have nominated Robert (Bob) Campbell and Major as our training pair.
The training Bob & Major attend twice a week, they are currently in the final level.
The equipment for level three and four training includes: a weight-bearing vest from Bold Lead Designs.
Sponsor the training of a rescue dog for veterans suffering from PTSD. Dog T.A.G.S. (Train Assist Guide Serve), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a service dog owner training program for veterans suffering from service connected PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and/or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). The veteran trains his/her personal dog with the help of experienced dog trainers. They work with veterans who served in conflicts ranging from Vietnam to present day Iraq and Afghanistan.
This grant will assist one Veteran diagnosed as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to train him/herself and his/her dog to become a service dog specifically for that Veteran. This can entail selection of an appropriate dog if Veteran doesn’t already own an appropriate dog along with all training from Level 1 through Level IV and all the equipment needed for training as well as any special equipment needed by the Veteran (in case of physical disabilities).
The support animal enables the Veteran to focus on activities of daily living and continuing social interactions/family development while gaining independence. Often symptoms of PTSD and/or TBI cause the individual to be hypervigilant. The project offers the Veteran the opportunity, through training, to form a solid bond with his/her dog allowing both the dog and the Veteran to assist, guide and serve each other opening both up to continued healing.
Our Program is designed to assist Veterans in coping with their diagnoses of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI and requires Veteran to have documentation from a physician to validate this. In addition, the program requires the Veteran to have a dedicated dog evaluated by our team for its ability to become a service dog. We assist Veterans in obtaining an animal if they don’t have an animal.
Bob Campbell was accepted into the program and attended for many weeks alone as requested assistance in obtaining his dog. He would observe classes and even encourage other veterans currently enrolled in the program. Months after his acceptance, the organization received notice of a young golden retriever spending his life tied in a barn. The dog was surrendered and available for adoption. Volunteers from Dog T.A.G.S. evaluated the dog for intelligence, aggressiveness, and suitability as a potential service dog and then aided Bob through the adoption. Bob and the dog, now known as Captain, quickly bonded into a great example of a service dog team.
Persons with PTSD sometimes find it difficult to reintegrate into society as the symptoms of the disorder can leave a person with sleeplessness, heightened irritability, sense of aloneness and even violent outbursts. The ability to bond with a service animal has been shown to alleviate these symptoms and allow individuals to overcome the major hurdles of the disorder. Our program is unique in that it requires the Veteran to be the active trainer with our trainers as guides to obtain desired results.
Our solution is an opportunity to work with caring trained individuals to journey toward the wholeness these Veterans crave and they have the added benefit of taking part in the development and final outcome of the training. The uniqueness comes from the results of the training and the love between the Veteran and his/her dog and their ability to handle everyday situations.
- What were the benefits? Benefits are to community at large as well as to the Veteran.
The community readily accepts individuals into society when there is an understanding of safety and the individual feels safe and in charge when paired with and focused on the care and concern of their service dog.
- What were the results?
The results for our grant recipient are seen in the team’s ability to move into the public spaces for longer periods of time without the fear and anxiety previously experienced when meeting new situations and people. Bob and Captain attend family outings for more than one hour. This is an excellent measure because at the beginning of their training Bob would hesitate to do even the shortest public outings with the group and trainer, due to the stress it caused him.
- How were the results measured?
Observation and repetition of the length of comfort zones of the team in training. Each week Bob and Captain attained satisfactory standings on the required activities and trainer’s notes show them to be diligent and hard workers. At the end of each level, they are evaluated as a team and Bob and Captain always passed directly to the next level and never repeated a level. This reflects Bob’s concentration and Captain’s ability to know what Bob wants him to do.
Once the service dog team completes the required training levels, they are tested in the field and given a certificate of completion and a patch to show that they have completed all levels satisfactorily. The organization continues to offer added training and support, as discussed previously.
The organization is replicating the project with each service team accepted into the program.