Rescue dogs, seeing eye dogs, dogs for seizure disorders, and dogs for the hearing impaired are just a handful of terms that come to mind when someone ventures upon a service dog and their handler. The VA started a study several years ago on service dogs designed to help their owners cope with PTSD.
PTSD is a coping mechanism and it affects more than just soldiers who have seen war. Children are daily faced with the anxiety and isolation that PTSD can lead itself to hide behind. But who wants to be alone? Humans are social creatures and we crave attention and love. Some survivors and soldiers have a hard time reintegrating into society. This is not because they don’t want to be social, they just feel like no one understands them.
Emotional support animals have been around since dog became man’s best friend. No one thought to label them until later, but isn’t that what a friend does? Supports you in a time when you feel at your weakest? For those who suffer a lone wolf syndrome (no pun intended) don’t have to be alone anymore.
Dogs are longtime friends of man, naturally they fill this role without even knowing it. But what are the advantages to a dog specifically for PTSD? The biggest one is companionship. Have you ever been sick on the couch and your dog knows you are feeling sick? Dogs have a very innate sense of when they are needed most.
Being around a dog has been proven to increase serotonin levels. Happy Pills! The person is able to relax and take down some of the anxiety. Dogs also give responsibility to the survivor. They can learn to connect and cope. Let our survivors thrive.
While the VA does not offer dogs available for PTSD survivors, there are many organizations who do provide dogs to PTSD survivors. Many of these are local to your state.