Category Archives: PTSD

First Training Session With Meghan

A wonderful update from our trainer in Austin:

“Hi Laurie!

This was my first training session with Meghan, who suffers from PTSD, severe anxiety/depression, night terrors, and fibromyalgia, and her SDIT Precious. When we first met awhile ago, she wanted to make her dog, Maximus a Service Dog – but within the last couple of weeks, Precious showed up in her life and has done an amazing job of keeping her calm and safe when she is not feeling well. Precious already instinctively knows what his job is. He was made to be her Service Dog!

I met with her and Precious at her apartment. We started out the session outside working on heeling with distractions around. He was good at heeling, but needs more practice. I started out training Precious on “close”, and he caught on quickly! He is a smart one!

Precious gets super excited when he sees other dogs out in public, so I taught Meghan the “look at that” technique where you treat the dog before there is any reaction. So, you have to be on guard when you see another dog nearby. You click before there is a reaction and treat them for it – this prolongs the dog from reacting and keeps him looking back at you because you are treating him.

Then, we went upstairs to her apartment and worked on “leave it”. Precious has a habit of eating Maximus’s food once Maximus walks away and takes a break. So I recommended to Meghan to use this opportunity to practice “leave it”. He got it! As soon as he would walk over to Maximus’ bowl, I stood in front of it and told him to leave it. He sat right away and did not move, then I treated him for that.

This dog chose Meghan for a reason and I am super excited about working with them!”


Lucia and Lily at Home Depot

YAY for our trainer in Austin! She’s been working hard! Here is her latest update on dear, wonderful Lucia, who suffers from PTSD, and her SDIT, Lily!

“Hi Laurie!

I had a GREAT session with Lucia and Lily at Home Depot tonight! We wanted to work on Lily heeling with distractions around and Lily did AWESOME job! I also had Lucia work on her loose-leash walking and no leash – just walking by her side! Lily did so great, a few times she would forge ahead but Lucia would call her back into a close and continue heeling! Even without the leash!!! She has great recalls now! I am so proud of them!!!

We also worked on sit/stays and down/stays as well and Lily can hold them for about eight feet and then breaks them but it’s great progress!!!

They are getting real close to taking the PAT! This was ONE of the BEST sessions we have had so far!


Update on Lucia and SDIT Lily

An update from our trainer in Austin, who is working with Lucia, who suffers from PTSD and anxiety, and her wonderful SDIT, Lily.

“Hi Laurie!

I had another session with Lucia and Lily yesterday. It went alright, but Lucia was having a hard day since she has a tough week emotionally. Thus, we took our session easy. We worked on heeling, using high value treats and worked on close, (training her to pivot into a close position next to Lucia’s leg). Lily is a smart dog and definitely is getting it down. We also worked a little bit on “leave it” with the grass and trees that seem to distract her when Lucia needs her attention.”


Please welcome new client Chris!

Chris is an amazingly kind man, who fell in love with Rusty, rescued and trained by Ms. Cherry Jenkins. Chris has been a policeman with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office in Austin for 27 years. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 07 and suffered until 2011. Now, he teaches about PTSD, Peer To Peep (P2P) Support, and works with the Stephen Ministry at Church. He has been considering a Service Dog to take to classes when he teaches as well as when he has one on one visits with others who are suffering. But he first wants to heal himself fully with the aid of a Service Dog.

Chris and his wife drove down from Austin, took one look at Rusty, and it was as if they had been bonded for life!! Cherry said she had literally never seen anything like it! Rusty followed Chris around EVERYWHERE – snuggled with him, walked with Chris’ wife, and when they had decided to adopt Rusty, Rusty went right to Chris’ truck, sat, waited, and loaded as if to say “OK, daddy – let’s go!” Chris has jokingly said to me that his looks belie his big heart – he’s a very tall, broad man that everyone thinks “must be rough” due to his appearance, but he is kind beyond words. Obviously, Rusty knew that, too. Never judge a book by its cover!

We are SO happy for Chris and Rusty!!! Here are pictures on the way home – Cherry will send more showing the meeting once she gets her phone fixed!!!

AMAZING story of the day !

One of our dear Wounded Warrior clients and friend (Jimmy with SD Otto) was pulling out of his parking spot at his apartment. A woman came running by and Jimmy had to slam on his breaks so hard that his Service Dog, Otto, who was secured in a seatbelt still ended up shattering the windshield . The lady just left; didn’t even realize that the unseen injuries would definitely affect Jimmy and could have killed his SD; that saves him from a lot of things everyday – his best friend . Anyway, even though Otto was the one that got hurt, this is the first thing he did when he got out of the car ! This dog is amazing and the bond that they have is beyond words. Otto is OK for now – no signs of injury – but we will all be helping Jimmy monitor Otto.

Wounded Warrior and Service Dog – Harassed, Humiliated, Degraded

A Wounded Warrior tried to enter the CSL Plasma Donation Center on Marbach with his Service Dog. I have spoken to the manager at this Center before, and it was decided that due to contamination issues, Service Dogs are allowed in the front, but not in the back where the actual plasma is being donated. I received a message from this client yesterday, explaining that he tried to enter, and although he understood that the dog could not go to the back, he was with his girlfriend who would hold the Service Dog up front. He was treated with extreme disrespect, yelled at and humiliated in front of other clients, and despite holding his calm demeanor and presenting his ADA SD rights card, was treated so badly that he went back to his car and broke down. I emailed and called the donation center today, and they apologized profusely for the behavior of their worker, and will be sure to contact our client asap to apologize.

“I am a Service Dog trainer in San Antonio, TX. One of your regular donors, Mr. XXX, a Wounded Warrior who fought in Afghanistan, tried to enter his local CSL Plasma center on 8725 Marbach Rd #275, San Antonio, TX 78227 with his Service Dog. While I understand that Service Dogs may be denied entrance to plasma donation center back rooms due to contamination issues, the way my client was treated was extremely harassing, humiliating, degrading, and ultimately against the law. My client was too upset to call the police, but had he done so, the woman who harassed him would have opened your establishment subject to a lawsuit. Harassment of a Service Dog is a misdemeanor, as is harassment of a Service Dog owner. This occurred at 4:45 on June 15th. My client would like an apology from not only the manager but directly from the woman who harassed him. I have put a call into the location and expect to hear back immediately. Again, I understand the contamination issues, but the humiliation my client received was completely uncalled for.”

Let’s hope they apologize. I applaud this Wounded Warrior for maintaining his calm demeanor while explaining his rights.

Meet new client, Wounded Warrior Bradley

Service Dog Express - Bradley, Heather and SD GingerMeet new client, Wounded Warrior Bradley, who is dealing with PTSD, his beautiful wife Heather, and their SDIT, Ginger! Bradley and his family moved here from Ft. Hood three months ago to be near family, but it was a difficult transition for them leaving behind the military family and friends they had bonded with. It’s been a difficult time for all of them – married for three years, dealing with PTSD (it took a long time for Bradley to acknowledge he had it, understandably), but Heather could see it and now, here, they have a good doctor who is working with them to start the healing process. I also put them in contact with some other military families and the Wounded Warrior Project to help them get assimilated and let them know that they are certainly not alone!!

Ginger is as cute as a button! She is a boxer mix, but on the smaller side. Bradley and Heather have already done so much work training her on their own – she knows all basic commands and heels perfectly. The first session, we just talked at their home about all they had gone through and how Bradley and Heather would like Ginger to help, and we went through “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “leave it”, etc. The next outing, we went to Petsmart, and Ginger was just wonderful. She heels with no problems, responds to “leave it” with distractions, gets along with all the dogs she meets – big or small (we did some training with Wounded Warrior Anthony and his SD Tucker and his wife Rowena and her SDIT Blessed), and they all just got along like peas in a pod! Of course, we will do more training in public, but the main thing Bradley needs help with is what many of us with “invisible disabilities” need to deal with – what to say when someone comes up (kindly), asks to pet your Service Dog (to which Bradley usually says yes), and the inevitable question, “What does your Service Dog do for you?” It only happened a few times, but I explained to Bradley that the answer is ALWAYS his choice. He doesn’t have to answer, he can say “She helps me with my daily functioning”, “She is my medical alert dog” (remember – PTSD and all psychiatric disabilities are medical conditions), or he can talk about being a Wounded Warrior with PTSD. I reminded him that he will face this question often, and his response may differ given the situation he is in, but ultimately it is up to him. Yes, revealing how a Service Dog can help Wounded Warriors with PTSD can be educating and helpful for people who don’t know, but ultimately, it is Bradley’s business. So, they as a family will be figuring this out and I know Ginger will be a wonderful help for Bradley and Heather!!!