Category Archives: Psychiatric

Prayers to Daniel

Well, friends, the unthinkable has happened again to our dear, wonderful, amazing, courageous, loving, and fragile Wounded Warrior, Daniel. I don’t know if you remember, but his beloved SD, Ivan, a beautiful pitbull who was trained to perfection and enabled Daniel to live a somewhat normal life again, had to be euthanized at less than 3 years old due to a lethal heart murmur and a 32% enlarged heart. Ivan was showing signs of labored breathing, white gums, coughing, and lethargy, and Daniel finally made the agonizing decision when our friends at St. Francis of Assisi told Daniel if they believed Ivan was suffering. It was a grueling experience.

Well, Daniel was understandably devastated by losing his Battle Buddy – especially at such a young age (in fact, I had just recently seen them and Ivan seemed so happy). Daniel became housebound with grief for awhile, but managed to pull himself up by his bootstraps and start the SD training again – this time, with Ivan’s brother, Stubby. Stubby was 3. Stubby always developed a cough during the winter, but Daniel attributed it to allergies, since Stubby never exhibited other symptoms. Little did Daniel know – Stubby had inherited the same genetic mutation for cardiomegaly as his littermate, Ivan.

They had only had one training session when Daniel started noticing the cough becoming worse. Then, two mornings ago, Stubby threw up blood and his gums were white. The wonderful Dr. Bauml at St. Francis agreed to see Stubby on his lunchbreak – and the news was bad – very bad. Ultrasounds and x-rays revealed that Stubby’s heart was 82% larger than it should have been. I completely encompassed his chest cavity, compressing his lungs and making it almost impossible to breath.

We all spoke, and Daniel, in shock, finally understood the severity of the condition and the amount of suffering Stubby was experiencing. Dr. Bauml even stayed after hours to consult with a veterinary cardiologist to see if there was anything that could be done.

Last night, at approximately 8:30 pm, Stubby’s throat became so swollen, he was almost lifeless. Daniel took him to the ER, and made the grueling but humane decision once again to put Stubby to rest.

I’m sure many of you cannot even fathom losing two Service Dogs within 6 months. But I knew Daniel, and those dogs had all the love they could ever have wanted during their time on earth.

Please, please say prayers for Daniel’s healing. He will surely need it. For more on causes and signs of cardiomegaly in your dog, please read the post above this one. And not that this is ANY fault of Daniel’s – but both Ivan and Stubby were purchased by a roadside seller. While this is not always a recipe for failure, please be wary of these people. Not only is it illegal (but the police don’t care), there is usually a great deal of inbreeding involved with these home-bred dogs. Inbreeding most usually causes genetic abnormalities in dogs.

If you wish to personally express your condolences to Daniel, his FB page is Daniel Robert Stroud. Also, I am personally asking if anyone might consider sending the family any amount of money to help with the incredible expenses they have spent trying to save their dogs.

Rest in eternal peace, Stubby. Go and run with your brother, Ivan


CONGRATULATIONS TO CAROL AND KENSI, WHO PASSED THEIR PUBLIC ACCESS TEST!!!!! Carol and Kensi have been extremely consistent in their training, and it has paid off! Carol suffers from PTSD, anxiety, and other psychiatric issues. But she has overcome many of her symptoms with the help of now Service Dog Kensi and Andrew’s training!

“This was Carol and Kensi’s Public Access Test. We met up in front of Petsmart, and I followed them around as they performed the tasks required by the test – and let me tell you these two performed beautifully! They passed their test with 100% accuracy. Even though Carol was very nervous, I can honestly say that I have never seen such a wonderful match between a dog and human. When I first got Kensi as my foster, she was very scared of loud noises, and wanted to run away. She suffered from what we believe was a minute form of Canine PTSD as a result of the first two humans she was matched with who had violent outbursts resulting from their own PTSD. Now that Kensi has been matched up with Carol, who is much more emotionally stable, she has excelled at her work. Complete turn around… I will stay in touch with these two as they have become my friends in this process. Below are some victory pictures!”

Andrew – I would like to personally add that knowing Kensi’s extensive history of trying to find the right home for her has been a true emotional roller coaster for Kensi. I still remember first meeting her – and how gentle and loving she was. Unfortunately, when we try to place dogs with clients, the dynamic doesn’t always work. Kensi has endured so much – and your dedication to not giving up on her and finding a wonderful, loving person like Carol absolutely turned Kensi’s life around; and I’m sure it has turned Carol’s life around. I am very, very proud of you, Andrew, Carol, and Kensi. – Laurie

Wounded Warrior Kathryn and her SDIT Abigail

From our trainer Candace, who is working with Wounded Warrior Kathryn, who suffers from PTSD and Adjustment Disorder, and her SDIT, Abigail.

“This session was an assessment/training to see if Australian Shepherd Abigail has what it takes to be a Service Dog. So far, so good! Abigail is slightly skittish when it comes to loud, unexpected noises, but has quick recovery. She needs some basics and advanced work, but it was clear from the beginning the bond between her and her owner, Kathryn, is very strong. I think, with intense training, Kathryn and her SDiT will be an unstoppable team!

Abigail also gets vocal around other dogs. Once we practiced redirection, Kathryn was able to get Abigail under control in under 2 seconds and was able to avoid vocalizations. This points to the need for more socialization for the two. With Kathryn’s anxiety, this will be a great test and trial for the team. I set them up with a basic training regimen, and Kathryn already has a wonderful plan set up for Abigail’s progression into Service work. I look forward to working with them both. They have great potential!”

7 year-old Aiden and SDiT Coe

Trainer Catherine, in Virginia, writes about her recent training:

I met with 7 year-old Aiden, who suffers from multiple physical disabilities, seizures, and some cognitive disabilities, and his mother, Amie. Since Aiden is nonverbal and although he can use sign language, can do minimal signs, I do 95% of the training with Amie. They adopted 1 year old Lab/Beagle mix, Coe from a rescue when I did an evaluation on him and found him to be a lovely match for the family! The last two weeks has been spent with Coe settling in. He’s adjusting super well! Amie says he has some fear of loud noises, but we suspect he was an outside dog prior to his rescue, so once he’s exposed to noises, he seems to adjust really well. They’ve been working on “sit”, “down”, “touch”, and “heeling” nicely on a leash. Coe walks beautifully with Amie, and Coe will even let Aiden hold the leash and not pull at all! Aiden cannot walk on his own, so eventually Coe will learn to help balance him. Coe loves to sit with Aiden on the couch and when Aiden has seizures and falls over, Coe is amazing about staying put and making sure that Aiden doesn’t fall off! The bond these two have is BEAUTIFUL!

I took my SD Baron’s vest over just to try it on to see size-wise what kind of vest would be good for Coe. It fit perfectly and something amazing happened. As I watched, Jay (Amie’s boyfriend) was helping Aiden to walk and Aiden grabbed a hold of the loop on the back of the vest Coe was wearing and with Jay’s help, leaned on Coe and the 3 of them walked all the way across the basement and back…WITH NO TRAINING!!!! I stood there absolutely amazed!!!! I know this dog is going to do great things for Aiden and I can’t believe I forgot to get pictures. I’ll have to get some next time!”


CONGRATULATIONS to Tracy and Cooper

CONGRATULATIONS to Tracy, who suffers with extreme PTSD, flashbacks, and disassociation episodes, and her now SD Cooper!

Tracy has been through SO much over this past year. She was originally paired with SD Apollo, and at first, it was an instant bond. Tracy and her loving husband, Jon, met Apollo about one year ago, and immediately at my house, Apollo started doing covers for Tracy. For a long time, and with a lot of training, Tracy and Apollo passed their PAT together.

However, as time went on and Tracy’s therapy was not working, her disassociation episodes continued to get worse. She began withdrawing from everything – even Apollo – and Apollo started bonding more with her husband, Jon. Apollo would not sleep on the bed nor next to it to wake Tracy from her night terrors. They realized, sadly, that Apollo would be better off in another home. They gave Apollo to a Wounded Warrior, whose symptoms were not as severe. It was a bittersweet day for Tracy.

However, in the meantime, Tracy had already adopted Cooper, a magnificent dog fostered by a woman named Margaret, who already knew most of the PAT command – he had just not found the right “person”. Tracy and Jon adopted Cooper while still looking for a home for Apollo, and Tracy went right to work practicing everything she had learned from working with Apollo to working with Cooper. Cooper had the very opposite type of personality as Apollo – while Apollo was very laid-back and slow-moving, Cooper was more active and much more in tune with Tracy’s moods and behaviors. Cooper immediately started sleeping with or next to her, waking her from night terrors, and would alert every time she went into disassociation. It wasn’t that Apollo wasn’t a great SD – he just wasn’t the one for Tracy’s particularly strong needs.

They practiced and perfected each and every inside command – as Tracy made up her mind not to give up on the idea of a Service Dog – and they started going out into public (something that Tracy had stopped doing as much when her symptoms returned and Apollo was becoming unresponsive). She said it was like night and day. Cooper never let Tracy out of his eyesight, alerted the minute she would start to have a flashback, would get Jon if she needed help, and Tracy began to feel confident again.

After many intensive, multi-hour sessions, Tracy and Cooper passed their PAT! They were perfect together. They passed every command out in public over and over flawlessly. Cooper automatically covers Tracy without command from whatever direction she needs it. We even dressed Cooper up in Halloween attire, and he got a lot of meet and greets with happy little children! Now, Tracy is off to receive intensive outpatient therapy with Cooper ready and by her side, and she rests comfortably knowing that fully-trained Apollo is helping someone else.


Beto and his SDiT Osito

From our trainer Michelle, who is in New Mexico.

“I had the pleasure of meeting with Beto and his SDiT Osito. Beto is a Vietnam Veteran with memory loss, diabetes and agent orange.

Training went well and we worked on making sure Beto knows how to hold the leash to prevent Osito from running off when the team works together. Osito also worked on “Leave it.” He does that perfectly! While working on Sit/stay and down/stay, not so much. I have learned from watching this team that SDiT Osito needs to be at Beto’s feet in case something happens with Beto’s medical condition, as Osito is extremely bonded to Beto. SDiT Osito has also learned when Beto says “Medicine” he comes and alerts Beto to take his meds! This is awesome, as it was a concern in the beginning.

SDiT Osito does alert to Beto’s diabetes – low and high! Good work team! I believe that with the new training, Osito will be ready for testing within the next 2 visits. He is a perfect little dog, and is still getting used to his vest – he is adorable.

Great work Team…. Keep up the work and training!

Daniel’s love for SD Ivan – RIP Beloved Ivan

Some very sad news. Ivan went into congestive heart failure last night. They wanted to keep him at the Vet ER overnight, but Daniel refused because he said he did not want his beloved SD to spend his final hours in a hospital. This morning, at approximately 10:00 am, Daniel, following the realistic but dreadful prognosis of Dr. Muisquiz, decided to end Ivan’s suffering as his murmur was so advanced his poor, 3 year-old body could not take anymore. I made sure I was with Daniel to interpret what Dr. Muisquiz was saying, and go over with him what to expect during the procedure, and help him sign the paperwork. Daniel’s 18 year-old son, Logan, was there to support his father. It was truly one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen. Ivan was everything to Daniel – just like his wonderful wife and other children. Daniel held Ivan until his final breaths. Daniel, as to be expected, is not doing well. And one of the saddest parts of it is that Daniel had taken Ivan to a different veterinarian about two months ago, because Ivan was losing weight drastically, not eating, lethargic, and was having constant nosebleeds. That veterinarian apparently did not even listen to Ivan’s heart carefully. A grade 5 heart murmur can be detected just by FEELING the dog’s chest or one of his pulses in the leg arteries, as Dr. Muisquiz showed us. Of course, I will be giving this “veterinarian” a call, because I truly believe this was a case of malpractice. Ivan’s congenital heart murmur would have eventually caught up with him, but had he been diagnosed properly earlier, the process could have been slowed and Ivan would not have had to suffer so much.

Please “friend” Daniel Stroud on Facebook to express your condolences.

Thank you for bringing Daniel out of his shell and helping him to regain some normalcy to your beloved Wounded Warrior father, Ivan. You will be missed beyond belief. Luckily, you had 3 years of the best care and the deepest love a dog could feel

Marcus and SDiT Duke

From our trainer Candace, in Fort Worth. She is working with 7 1/2 year-old Marcus, who suffers from PTSD, night terrors, and extreme anxiety at such a young age. Heather, Marcus’s mother, says that Duke is such a good friend for Marcus son, Marcus. Heather says that Marcus, who was adopted at age 4 1/2, is a bright, compassionate, energetic young man who is being limited by the ghosts of his past. She loves him so much, citing that “I am in awe at the resilience he shows in just getting up and facing the day every morning. He always asks for me to stay with him at night and he says he wishes his dog (an adopted chiweenie) was bigger and could watch over him at night.” What a beautifully supportive family dear Marcus has!

“Marcus’ family is doing a wonderful job with their son’s SDiT, “Duke”. Duke miraculously keeps up with young Marcus, as he is so active and upbeat! We worked on proper leash walking. Heather did most of the walking, showing Marcus how to go about properly himself. Marcus is doing a great job as well, minding his mother and doing his best to work with Duke. We also played a game where Marcus hid under his covers and Duke jumped up to find him. This will help when Marcus has his nightmares and Duke needs to comfort him. Other than that, the family is working on basic training like “come,” “stay,” and “leave it.” Duke is doing very well, and picking up on things quickly. The challenge will be to transfer those training skills over to Marcus and having Duke mind him. This will take time, patience and consistency on the Wilson’s part, especially for Heather. So far, she is remarkable. Keep up the great work!”



From our trainer in Austin! HAGGER THE HUMUNGOUS HAS PASSED!!!!

“I am happy to announce that Lee and Hagger have passed the Public Access Test! We met at Walmart this morning and took a nice stroll with Hagger heeling beside Lee the whole time. Lee took Hagger through some tight quarters and narrow turns and Hagger fit right in!

Hagger does sits and downs on commands just once. He has great stays as well with a shopping cart going by him!

We headed to Subway to eat and settle while Lee and I talked for a bit, Hagger made himself at home on the floor!

Lee has worked and trained Hagger TIRELESSLY to get him ready and he has been more than successful!

I am so happy for those two!”


Brooklyn and Starlette

An update from our trainer, Andrew, who is working with Brooklyn, who suffers from PTSD, flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares, and his SDIT, Starlette.

“This was a wonderful session where we discussed the importance of duration. Since the Public Access Test requires that the dog stay in the commanded position (i.e. down or sit, for at least three minutes), we discussed that. Starlette is doing extremely well. She has taken to her new family, and has become very protective over Brooklyn’s son and Brooklyn himself, but in a positive and progressive way. In times of stress, Starlette will take the lead and push back in a “cover” position against Brooklyn as of to say “you can stand back I got this”, and she will hold her ground in a non aggressive way. She has learned to play a game which they have aptly named “find Sean” which is the name of Brooklyn’s son, where Starlette will go find the two year old boy, circle him, and sit next to him. Brooklyn has worked on the “find your spot” game. The “find your spot” game is the act of the dog finding a handler-designated spot for the dog to go to when told. Starlette has her spot in each of the three main rooms in the house (the kitchen, the living room, and the bedroom). She is doing so well that Brooklyn is going to begin taking her to work with him where he works as a chef in the kitchen at a hospital on 32nd street in downtown Austin!