LIFE

Abandoned Shelter Pups Find New Purpose After Becoming Service Dogs For Veterans With PTSD

Morgan is a writer on the branded content team who loves breakfast food almost as much as she loves dogs.

Rescue dogs are often overlooked as damaged goods, but one organization in Portland, Maine, is looking to give these dogs a sense of purpose.

K9s on The Front Line is a nonprofit organization that pairs veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a rescue dog trained to be a service animal. Each veteran goes through a rigorous 16-week training program with their dog, after which their canine companion is certified to assist in whatever PTSD-related issues arise.

“Anyone who’s had a dog knows what a dog can do for you,” says Linda Murray, vice president and director of development for K9s on The Front Line. “Dogs can absorb negative emotions.”

Depending on the type of PTSD the veteran is experiencing, each service dog is trained a bit differently.

Veteran Kim Powers-Candelmo, for example, gets nervous when people are behind her, and so her dog Boss is trained to form a blockade between her and others.

“I get very uncomfortable with people standing behind me, so if I tell him ‘cover,’ he automatically goes behind me and stands between a person and myself,” says Kim. “He always keeps a distance if I’m feeling uncomfortable.”

Though the veterans are technically the ones rescuing dogs from the shelter, the dogs return the favor by giving these heroes their lives back.

“Really, what we’ve kind of found is, we’re rescuing some of these dogs, and then we’re rescuing the handlers,” says Christian Stickney, head trainer at North Edge K9, where the dogs are trained. “It’s just a win/win scenario.”

K9s on The Front Line is able to provide veterans with service dogs at no charge thanks to businesses like TD Bank, which help make a difference. For more information on the organization and how TD Bank’s Bring Change initiative has impacted countless lives, be sure to visit their website.

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