How Important Dogs Are
Most dog owners do not need to be told how important their dogs are and how much unconditional love they get from their canine companion; but there are some dogs who are trained to go above and beyond the bond of friendship.
Service and healing dogs are not a new concept and with their unconditional love, loyalty and eagerness to please, dogs make the ideal companions for millions of people worldwide in areas such as home help for the disabled, daily aids for blind or deaf people and working with children with autism.
Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Another area where dogs have had an amazing effect of helping their human counterparts is with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) syndrome in war veterans and it has even been said that healing dogs are better than drugs in treating this server condition. Over 300,000 war veterans in the US alone have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering with PTSD, the effects of which can result in extreme depression, psychotic episodes or breakdowns, hallucinations, panic attacks, social anxiety, shaking, sweating and other physically and mentally draining symptoms.
How Dogs are Helping Our War Heroes
Healing dogs specially trained in helping veterans with PTSD are associated with a growing number of non-profit organisations across the world and great progress has been made when pairing veterans with dogs, which are mainly Labrador and Golden Retrievers but can be any breed with the correct training. A dogs natural ability to soothe those they are around is known to all dog lovers and owners, whether they need healing or not; but the other benefits a dog can have on the debilitating symptoms a PTSD sufferer experiences are just as fundamental and cathartic.
As war veterans develop a close bond with their healing dog, they learn to reconnect emotionally and physically through stroking, petting, hugs and just having the dog near. So many veterans are unable to cope with a social connection when they return from war and often this leads to a breakdown in family relationships.
A Dogs Unconditional Love
Whilst families want to offer unconditional love and help, it is a human condition to also think about our own needs and wants, no matter how much we love the person who is suffering. A dog on the other hand has no thoughts for itself, only unconditional love and the desire to please. This enables PTSD sufferers to reconnect without feelings of guilt that they are not progressing fast enough and without having to think about others feelings, which can be so difficult when you are suffering mentally and physically.
The more organisations who train dogs to help with the effects of PTSD on war veterans and participate in healing programs, the more data will be collected on the benefits and already states such as Florida in the US, Congress has commissioned a study, to assess the effectiveness of canines helping PTSD sufferers.
We Owe Our Dogs A Lot
The power of a dogs love and companionship can never be underestimated and every time a new ailment, disorder or disability strikes the human race, there seems to be a place for dogs in the healing and helping. As such we owe so much to our canine friends and we need to focus much more on showing them the respect and love that they so willingly give to us.
Links to Organisations