Category Archives: PTSD

Wounded Warrior, Thomas and his SDIT, Samanatha

From our wonderful trainer, Cherry, who met with Wounded Warrior, Thomas and his SDIT, Samanatha. Thomas suffers from Migraines, syncope, seizures, PTSD, anxiety, and severe depression.

Cherry writes:

“This story may touch your heart. I had a wonderful assessment with Thomas and his SDIT Samantha. Thomas and his family chose sweet Samantha from the pound with the intent of her being a Service Dog for him. She was super cute, so they adopted her and took her home. Not long afterward, they discovered sweet Samantha is DEAF! Not wanting to give up on their sweet baby like some do, Thomas decided he would teach her sign language; and so far she has learned Sit and Come by sign alone!!

Samantha heeled well in PetSmart, ignoring most distractions – even the cats! She has an amazing bond with Thomas, so I know this team will do well!

Thomas’ homework was to continue having Samantha heel, performing “watch me”, and practicing “cover”. He will also keep on practicing the sits and stays.

I am going away to visit my family in Europe for a few weeks, but Thomas has great support from trainer Letty, who will be there if he needs her. Letty is proficient in sign language, and has her own deaf Service Dog. Thomas was super excited to start training. What a wonderful person to want to continue working with Samantha even after he discovered she was deaf! A war veteran with a huge heart, what could be better? :)”



Emmett, our trainer in Austin, helped this wonderful pair pass the Public Access Test! Randi suffers from Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, MST (Military Sexual Trauma), and Migraine Headaches that leave him physically paralyzed.

The PAT was held at Home Depot in Georgetown, TX.

Emmett writes:

Wounded warrior Randi and her now Service Dog Gunner (Gunnerson) did AMAZING on their public access test! Randi served in the Air Force and after some time began training with Gunner. He is an incredibly bright Yorkie and is ALWAYS focused on Randi. The highlight of their public access test was Gunner demonstrating his “leave it”. Randi threw out a few treats, commanded him to leave them and walked Gunner through. He did not so much as sniff at them! Gunner also did exceptionally well on the obstacle course we created from the carts at Home Depot. He sat and greeted a stranger with ease as well as kept composure when his leash was taken. Randi and Gunner’s dedication was very apparent. Congrats to this team! You have done phenomenal! We will continue to work on disability related tasks.”

The following were perfect:

Dog did not try to leave vehicle until given release command.
The Dog waited in the vehicle until released.* Yes
The Dog waited outside the vehicle under control. Yes
The Dog remained under control while another dog was walked past. Yes

Relative heel position, not straining or forging.
The Dog stayed in relative heel position. Always
The Dog was calm around traffic.* Yes
The Dog stopped when the client came to a halt. Always

The Dog waited quietly at the door until commanded to enter.* Yes
The Dog waited on the inside until able to return to heel position.* Yes

The Dog was within the prescribed distance of the client. Always
The Dog ignored the public, remaining focused on the client. Always
The Dog readily adjusted to speed changes. Always
The Dog readily turned corners–did not have to be tugged or jerked to change direction. Always
The Dog readily maneuvered through tight quarters. Always

The Dog responded readily to the recall command–did not stray away, seek attention from others, or trudge slowly.* Yes
The Dog remained under control and focused on the client.* Yes
The Dog came within the prescribed distance of the client.* Yes
The Service Dog came directly to the client.* Yes

The Dog responded promptly to the command to sit. Always
The Dog remained under control around food–not trying to get food and not needing repeated corrections.* Yes
The Dog remained composed while the shopping cart passed–did not shy away, show signs of fear, etc.* Yes
The Dog maintained a sit-stay while being petted by a stranger.* Yes

The Dog responded promptly to the command to down. Always
The Dog remained under control around the food–not trying to get food and not needing repeated corrections.* Yes
The Dog remained in control while the child approached – child should not taunt dog or be overly dramatic.* Yes

If the Service Dog jumps, turns, or shows a quick startle type reaction, that is fine. The Service Dog should not show fear, aggression, or continue to be affected by the noise.
The Service Dog remained composed during the noise distraction.* Yes

The Service Dog is unobtrusive and out of the way of patrons and employees as much as possible.* Yes
The Service Dog maintained proper behavior, ignoring food and being quiet.* Yes

When told to drop the leash, the team maintained control and the client got the leash back in position.* Yes

Another person can take the dog’s leash and the dog’s partner can move away without aggression or undue stress on the part of the dog.* Yes

The Service Dog stayed in relative heel position. Always
The Service Dog was calm around traffic.* Yes
The Service Dog stopped when the client came to a halt. Always

The Service Dog waited until commanded to enter the vehicle. Yes
The Service Dog readily entered the vehicle upon command. Yes

When the Service Dog did well, the client praised the Service Dog. Always
The Service Dog is relaxed, confident, and friendly. Always
The client kept the Service Dog under control. Always
The client was prepared with proper working materials and equipment in case of an access confrontation (laws, etc.). Yes

Were there any unique situations that made any portion of this test not applicable (write comments below)? I marked “yes” for dog waited until exited the vehicle but Randi physically removes him to keep his joints in the best shape (it is a very high truck). That’s the only “non-applicable” part.


CONGRATULATIONS TO WOUNDED WARRIOR RACHEL AND HER NOW SERVICE DOG, “BEAR”!!!!! Rachel suffers from diagnosed with PTSD and a TBI after a vehicle accident where she was the sole survivor. Her previous Service Dog was killed by her neighbor. Bear was given to our family in the aftermath of the loss of her beloved “Toby”.

Wonderful trainer Letty writes:

“Congratulations to Rachel and Bear for passing their PAT (Public Access Test)”. Rachel, who is active duty and will be moving to Alaska in a few days, has come a long way in a short amount of time. She and Bear worked extremely hard and are now a confident working team. The love and partnership between the two of them is both beautiful and inspiring to watch. Congratulations again and thank you for all you do in our Armed Forces!”

Wounded Warrior, Cody, and SDIT, Mastiff and Labrador mix, “Zeus”

From our trainer, Cherry, who is working with Wounded Warrior, Cody, and his SDIT, Mastiff/Labrador mix, “Zeus”. Cody suffers from PTSD and multiple TBIs. Zeus was adopted from Cherry’s rescue, In Dog We Trust.

Cherry writes:

“It was super special to train with Cody, who adopted amazing Zeus. Zeus knew me when we first saw each other after Cody had bonded with him for a while, and wagged his tail, but wasn’t over excited. This gave me mixed feelings because on the one hand, I feel sad that the dog I rescued and worked so hard with really wasn’t that bothered to see me again, but on the other hand, it’s so nice to know that the bond is so strong with the new owner that the dog has “moved on”. It was clear to see that strong bond with Zeus and his owner, Cody, and far more important.

Our session was about heeling. which Zeus did perfectly, and as one can see by the photo, performs beautiful covers by leaning right in to Cody’s legs. Zeus’ “sit” and “down” were perfect – so Cody has been doing his homework! The next thing to teach Zeus is “stay”. He does a good stay in the sit position, but his down/stay needs work.

We walked past busy aisles, crowds and noisy children and Zeus just ignored them all – keeping a steady pace next to Cody. At one point during the session, a man walked up to us and reached out his hand to Cody to thank him for his service. Cody smiled and shook his hand, as we walked away he said to me quietly, “I wish people wouldn’t do that. It triggers my anxiety.”

This is an excellent point that Cody raised. We all want to thank our brave men and women, but they have a Service Dog for a reason. In many cases, that reason is PTSD, and a simple gesture like suddenly coming up to the Wounded Warrior can trigger it. My advice to anyone wanting to thank the men and women, is to nod and smile first; the client’s body language will let you know if they welcome an approach. If the client does, the person approaching must step forward slowly; a sudden appearance of a person with an outstretched hand can startle some.

I left Cody with some homework to practice the Down and Stay and asked him if I could pet Zeus; I couldn’t resist a snuggle on his gorgeous face! :)”

Kerri and her Corgi/Border Collie mix, “Bandit”

From our wonderful trainer, Beverli! She is working with Kerri and her Corgi/Border Collie mix, “Bandit”.  Kerri suffers from Agoraphobia, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Panic Attacks, and PTSD.

Beverli writes:

“Today, at Kerri’s home, we worked on the following commands: “cover”, “touch”, “stay”, and “give”. We worked very hard on Bandit’s ability to STAY while in a sitting position. He does well when he’s laying down and asked to stay, but from a sit was a little difficult for him. He was doing very well by the end of the session. We also introduced “cover” during our last session, and by this week, he has it nearly mastered!

Bandit will need more work with stay, both from a sit and stay in public places. We will work more on this during our next session. Bandit seems to have made huge strides with “cover” since last session, and is doing increasingly well with the ‘touch’ command.

For homework, Kerri and Bandit will work more on stay and cover, and ask him to “touch” at random, while at home and in public.”



Ethan suffered from severe PTSD, anxiety, and TBI while on active duty. Trainer Terry in El Paso, who has been doing amazing training with Ethan and Shae’mus, wrote the following:

“Today, Ethan and Shae’mus performed like pros today during their Public Access Test! They completed all 14 test areas with style, grace, attention to detail, and clear and concise work with purpose and meaning. Their mall presentation absolutely impeccable! You can clearly tell that they both have put a lot of time, work, and effort into training so they could successful past their Public Access Test. Congratulations goes out to Ethan, Shae’mus and the Ethan’s entire family! They have been an absolute joy to work with!!”

Update on Emmett and SD Daphne

We LOVE to get posts like this!! This is from Emmett – our former client, diagnosed with PTSD and seizures, and now one of our trainers!!! He has over 100 pictures of his Service Dog, Daphne on his FB site. Even his family members and friends have posted that they don’t know what Emmett would do without Daphne – she has changed his life so much!

Emmett writes: “Just a bunch of pictures of my Service Dog because she’s great!”

Attached are a few of our favorites of the two together.

Update from Denise, a Vietnam Era Wounded Warrior

It’s truly wonderful to hear news from our clients about how their Service Dogs continue to help them in ways they didn’t even expect – this is a result of consistent training even after they have passed the Public Access Test and BONDING!!!!

From our client, Denise, a Wounded Warrior from the Vietnam Era who passed her Public Access Test with the help of trainer, Brenda, and her Service Dog, Sandy! Denise is wheelchair-bound, and that does not inhibit her!!! This also highlights the importance of letting Laurie contact the airlines for you when you are traveling.

“Good Afternoon Laurie! Sandy and I are doing well also. As you can tell Sandy and I are on the road again. We are on our way to Houston for our family reunion, so I need your help again with arrangements for our trip. Whenever you contact the airport for me things run so much smoother, and I really appreciate that help from you. So I am sending you our itinerary for our trip and I would appreciate your help again.

I wanted to tell you something about the training I received for Sandy. I know Sandy was trained to help me with my PTSD, but I had no idea how well she understood her role until I got back from California. About two weeks after I returned, for some reason I had a meltdown. I was hysterically crying and unable to stop. All of a sudden, I started calling for Sandy; the next thing I knew I heard her jump out of her chair, come running through the apartment, jumped and flew through the air, jumped on top of me and pressed herself on me and held me down to calm me down, and she didn’t leave until I calmed down enough to fall asleep. It happened a second time and she did the same thing again. So I want to thank you again for your training course! Thank you so much for your help and understanding.”

Doesn’t something like that just fill your heart with joy?

2 Wounded Warriors – Father and Son

Laurie writes:

I had two sessions with Dale, who is a Wounded Warrior from the Vietnam Era, and Dale’s son, Sean, who just retired from active duty after 20 years. They both have dogs that they would like to be trained as Service Dogs. This was very interesting – and challenging – training two clients at once! But it was beautiful, because Sean is so tuned in to his father’s needs that he helps with the training.

Dale suffers from PTSD, two TBIs with neck and shoulder damage, bulged cervical discs, low back disc damage with radicular pain through his right leg from the back to his foot. He also suffers from chronic migraines and many other TBI symptoms, including memory loss. He recently moved from his hometown in Oregon to be with his son due to his condition. His SDIT is a rescue named “Piper”. He would like Piper to help with retrieving items off the floor, mobility, balance, stability when a migraine hits, and PTSD including bereavement after recently losing his wife of many years. Unfortunately, Piper, whom Dale chose from the shelter, is not large enough to help a lot with mobility – but we will do the best we can.

Dale’s son, Sean, suffers from PTSD and TBI. His SDIT is an absolutely gorgeous German Shepherd name “Calvin”. Calvin already knows many commands, so when we had our second session at PetSmart, we focused more on Dale and Piper. I suggested that Dale use a shopping cart to balance when walking with Piper instead of using his cane. This seemed to help him. Piper knows some commands, such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, and is learning to heel and “leave it”. Piper is an extremely curious dog, so focusing on the “leave it” part will be essential.

Sean and Calvin did a wonderful job. Calvin was not heeling well on a regular collar, so we switched to a different collar and very soon, Calvin was heeling perfectly! Calvin knows several commands, such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “leave it”, and makes wonderful eye contact with Sean. We did several meet and greets, and Piper was excited and friendly, so we must work on his ability to stay still. Calvin is a very, very calm German Shepherd who doesn’t get rattled or excited easily. In fact, he likes to do a few commands then just lay down on the floor and rest!

Our next session will be at a Walmart. I want Piper to get used to Dale in a motorized wheelchair. We will continue to work on Calvin’s commands at Walmart as well.

We owe so much gratitude to this family who for generations has dedicated their lives to serving our country!

CONGRATULATIONS to Maddie, and SERVICE DOG, American Staffordshire Terrier,“Hera”

CONGRATULATIONS to client Maddie, and her now SERVICE DOG, American Staffordshire Terrier,“Hera”!! Maddie suffers from PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Trainer Emmett writes:

“We performed the Public Access Test at the Wolf Ranch Town Center in Georgetown, TX. Hera mastered the following: “Controlled Unload Out Of Vehicle”, “Approaching The Building”, “Controlled Entry Through A Doorway”, “Heeling Through The Building”, “Six Foot Recall On Lead”, “Sits On Command”, “Downs On Command”, “Noise Distractions”, “Restaurant Etiquette”, “Off Lead”, “Dog Taken By Another Person”, “Controlled Exit”, “Controlled Load Into Vehicle”, and “Team Relationship”

Maddie and her now Service Dog, Hera, did fantastic on their Public Access Test! Hera is an American Staffordshire Terrier that was rescued by In Dog We Trust rescue run by Ms. Cherry Jenkins, and has been training with Maddie and Emmett for some time now. Hera is incredibly attentive to Maddie and always watches for her hand signals or vocal cues. Hera heeled perfectly on a leash, sat before greeting strangers and has mastered her down/stay (the hardest one for Hera to learn). I am overjoyed to see these two go on to the next leg of their journey! Way to go!”