We at Service Dog Express have had a quite eventful and absolutely fulfilling experience the past two Saturdays! It started over a month ago, when one of our clients with his SD was attending the inpatient Wounded Warrior PTSD clinic at Laurel Ridge Psychiatric Hospital here in San Antonio. So many of the other Wounded Warriors there were astounded by this client’s SD, that we started getting phonecalls from the inpatients asking if they could obtain SDs.
Coordinating it all was extremely difficult, but over two Saturdays we were able to bring together our trainers, various fosters, rescues from In Dog We Trust, and a TON of dogs onto the unit to meet and greet all the potential clients. It was a tremendous success!! I’m sure the front lobby wasn’t too happy with the parade of hair most likely left from all the dogs we brought, but I am SO pleased to say that we matched up 5 dogs with these Wounded Warriors!!!!! It was like a grand opening shopping event!
The most amazing thing was to see how each warrior’s countenance and demeanor changed when the dogs were brought into the unit. Their sad eyes brightened, they were excited, frowns turned to smiles, as they petted and met each of the dogs. Even the staff seemed happier! So, the 5 new adopters will receive their dogs once they are released from the inpatient unit – all papers were signed – and we will train with them once they are released.
I wish I could have taken pictures, but it is against Laurel Ridge policy. Thank you to everyone who participated in these monumental days – and five new dogs now will have forever homes!!!!!
UPDATE 10 AUG:
Regarding the post above about Laurel Ridge. Those of you who posted such incredibly negative postings were uninformed and unaware of how this process worked. I will not waste my time justifying your hatred, I will only present the facts so you can be a little bit more “educated” about how this process worked.
We were sent client submission forms from several of these Wounded Warriors who are in the TRANSITION unit at Laurel Ridge. The DOCTORS at Laurel Ridge who observed what a difference the SD, Sassy, had made with this one Wounded Warrior wrote PRESCRIPTIONS for these select Wounded Warriors for a Service Dog based upon what they observed in the healing process that took place between Sassy and his owner. They INVITED us to come. We did not initiate this. The warriors met the dogs on two separate occasions – which took hours and hours of work on behalf of our fosters, trainers, and the staff at Laurel Ridge. NONE of these inpatients received dogs while still inpatients. They were prescribed the dogs as part of the HEALING process when they are eventually released back into the civilian world. EVERY single dog that was chosen by a Wounded Warrior, again, with the ADVICE of their doctor or caseworker will not be receiving the dog until they are back home. Each Wounded Warrior who has chosen a dog has also been assigned a TRAINER from Service Dog Express to follow-up with them on training and helping them reintegrate into society just as we do any other Wounded Warrior who comes to us seeking the healing aid of a Service Dog. I don’t know where this term “contract” came up that many of you are referring to – the warriors simply chose a dog that they spent several hours with accompanied by a trainer to see if it were a good fit – and if they decided, again, along with their doctors or caseworkers that the match was well made, the ADOPTION papers were signed so that each warrior was properly matched with their dog. In addition, all dogs, no matter how far along in their Service Dog training they were (ALL now basic commands), were DONATED to these Wounded Warriors. No “money” was made off of this for any of us. We all did this out of the goodness of our hearts and because we, again, were INVITED by Laurel Ridge. In fact, we have been invited back AGAIN to work with some more Wounded Warriors in the female unit who will be transitioning back into civilian life because the DOCTORS and CASEWORKERS were so impressed with the high caliber of dogs we brought and how carefully we assessed each warrior and the dog they chose – again – ALL GIVEN PRESCRIPTIONS BY THEIR PHYSICIANS OR CASEWORKERS for this incredible experience to heal with a Service Dog by their sides. And I am NOT going to delete and ban all you naysayers until you have had a chance to read this – because you have ALL missed the point. What we have done at Service Dog Express by helping these Wounded Warriors is given them hope and joy – if you had been there to see the way their faces lighted up when they realized they could benefit from a Service Dog – the literal tears of joy – you would all be saying the exact OPPOSITE of what you posted and “shared”. These Service Dogs will, as always, be part of the healing process for these men and women who are now going back home, many alone, to civilian life – and their spirits have been uplifted by knowing that they will have a “Battle Buddy” by their side. Again, these dogs, who we normally charge adoption fees for because of the amount of training we have put into them, were given to these men and women for FREE. Maybe you all should be looking at the fact that more lives will be SAVED because of what we did – it was in all respects a labor of love for all of us involved – instead of focusing on the ridiculous comments that imply we did this to “make money” or to “prey on vulnerable people”. If you have issue with this, ask the doctors and caseworkers who finally thought “out of the box” and realized by actually SEEING the healing power of these dogs – and prescribed them for our amazing warriors to help them in their new lives. So, from what has been written below, it seems that everyone who posted such vulgar and uninformed posts would rather see our valiant men and women rely on drugs and get shoved out into the world back into loneliness and reliance upon drugs and other unhealthy methods to “cope” instead of knowing they will have a highly trained and continuously trained Service Dog to be by their sides. All I can say is shame on you. You care more about what you “think” Service Dog Express cares about – money, publicity, etc., than actually what we DO care about – and that is enhancing the lives of all of those who can benefit from a Service Dog. Shame on you.