Health

Dogs help stressed US military veterans cope with civilian life

When retired US Army Staff Sergeant Justin Madore has nightmares, his dog Cody is there to wake him up.

Cody gets up in my bed and starts pounding on me — it’ll knock my wife right out of bed, said Madore, 37, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The dogs become a part of us — they know when there’s something off.

Cody, a 3-year-old Labradoodle, a Labrador retriever and poodle mix, has had special training. He and Madore met up at K9s for Warriors in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where the non-profit center has trained dogs for two years to help veterans who suffer from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, said executive director Shari Duval.

A US Veterans Affairs report reveals that of about 830,000 veterans treated at VA medical centres over the last decade, 29 percent had a diagnosis of PTSD, and 22 percent were suffering from depression.

K9s for Warriors offers veterans a three-week in-house program to meet and learn how to work with their dogs.

The dogs are not as highly trained as seeing-eye dogs for the blind, said Duval, but they do have special skills — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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