Category Archives: TBI

Ed and Edison

From our wonderful trainer, Terry, who lives in El Paso. He is working with handler Edward, who suffers from PTSD and TBI, and his SDIT, Edison!

Terry writes:

“Today, I conducted Service Dog Training covering these following fields; “Sit Command”, “Down Command”, “Controlled Load and Unload into and out of Vehicle”, and “Socialization” in crowded and non-crowded areas. Both handler Edward and his Service Dog in Training, Edison, performed very well in the all the areas mentioned! Edison seemed very poised and confident in all public areas visited. Edward has the proper verbal commands down very well, as well as having good leash control when working. These two are working hard, and it shows!”

Warmest regards


Assistance in the Rio Grande Valley and more

This is a message from our exceptionally brilliant and compassionate trainer, Jacqueline (Jackie). Her life’s passion is to help Veterans, and she asked us to post this for all Veterans, especially in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), if they need help.

I have been a graduate psychologist at the VA down here in the RGV. After working in 3 different VA health care systems, I have seen the great need for Veteran care and have seen both good (actually excellent) and bad ways VAs are run and treatment is provided. It is with an EXTREMELY saddened heart that I can no longer allow myself to provide a lower level of care to Veterans than what they deserve, nor be forced into functioning in a treatment setting that is providing unethical care.

I LOVE my work with Veterans and see such a huge need for this to continue, but as I leave, I also see several other amazing psychologists leaving as well due to the same challenges. I continue to see a need for Behavioral Health Care in the Rio Grande Valley, with Veterans and Civilians alike. After 11 years of schooling and 7 years providing Behavioral Health (BH) Services, I was completing my licensure requirements as a psychologist to provide the highest and most comprehensive options out there, however, despite the need for services in the RGV, I ran into several dead ends for finishing this last piece. However, I am willing to put my own final step on hold to help two communities (Veterans and anyone in the RGV) in need of BH services.

I hold a Masters Level License in the State of Texas that allows me to practice independently (but with some restrictions from what I would have had with my psychologist license and obviously at about 1/3-1/4 of the pay). I am hoping to make some things come together over the next month or two (and will probably be open to picking up random general labor work as my student loans have gone into effect and I incurred debt moving from Idaho to here), but am hoping to offer TeleHealth (similar to Skyping but in a much more secure system) and/or in home therapy/animal assisted-therapy services here in the RGV at hopefully a fraction of the cost of some other places (most likely on an income based sliding scale fee basis) since I will not be accepting insurance and I am wanting to reach a larger population of those in need.

That being said, minus the in-home piece, I am able to offer this TeleHealth service within the scope of my practice anywhere in the state of Texas. I am most wanting to reach Veterans as I know for many, wait times between treatment sessions is 2-3 months in several facilities throughout the state. However, I am also really wanting to service Civilians in the RGV and throughout Texas. I am NOT bilingual unfortunately, but have a considerable amount of understanding of the RGV culture, the Hispanic Culture, and the Texas Hispanic Culture.

For those of you who may know of people who may be able to benefit from this, please feel free to contact me. I will gladly share my extensive training and treatment experience with anyone who requests this, and am hoping to start this as an option for the community within the next two months.

Please contact me at: Jacqueline Kappelman

Ed and SDiT Edison the Great Dane

A wonderful write-up from our trainer, Terry, in El Paso, who is working with Edward, who suffers from PTSD and TBI, and his Great Dane, SDIT, Edison!!  Terry writes:

“Good Day Edward & Edison!

I would like to thank you for our Saturday Dog Training Session.

 Leash Control: Was very good when you, Edward, gave your SDIT a command. You were in a great position for this execution, and you both did the action in unison.

Canine Drive: Edison has a strong desire to please you, Edward, the initiative to do great things, and stamina to make all of that happen. You also possess similar desires and motivation, coupled with the ability to control and maneuver him through his daily duties as a Service Dog.

You did well on the following tasks listed; Heeling through the building, Six foot recall on lead, Sits on command, Downs on command, and noise distraction.

I can tell that you and Edison have been doing a lot of work together. Please keep up the good work.  Please continue to work on the proper commands for each test areas.

This next session will include the following commands listed below.

  • Off lead
  • Approaching a building
  • Socialization with other dogs
  • Passive, active, and hand commands. All dogs should honor your commands verbally and with hand gestures.
  • Controlled unit and Load unit vehicle

Edward and Edison – I look forward to our next session! See you then!

Makes your heart swell with pride and joy

You know when you have one of those clients and their SD that when you see pictures of them together, it just makes your heart swell with pride and joy? Well, it’s that way with the most compassionate Wounded Warrior, Marine Andrew, who is finishing up his separation from the Marines due to PTSD and TBI, and his BFF, the adorable “Mozzie”. Working diligently beyond belief with the amazing Unleashed Dog Training in North Carolina, near Camp LeJeune, these two have consistently impressed me with their bond and their dedication. Talking to Andrew on the phone often to maintain that bond between he and I while he is undergoing training in NC has been an absolute privilege. He is going through some difficult times right now – we are trying our hardest to get his Chain of Command to allow Mozzie into the barracks for the short time Andrew will be there for out processing – please wish us luck. They NEED each other!


Wounded Warrior Andrew and SDIT Mozzie

Please – EVERYONE with a Service Dog in Training, I would like you to please watch these amazing videos sent by long-distance Wounded Warrior client, Andrew, and his SDIT, Mozzie.

Mozzie, formerly known as “Ozzie”, was paired with a Wounded Warrior, Marine Andrew, while at Laurel Ridge. Andrew was in treatment for PTSD and TBI, and photophobia-induced migraines (notice the sunglasses in the videos. They did not hinder eye contact at all) . Andrew initially wrote to us the following: “I received a recommendation from my therapist and from my psychiatrist for a service dog. I came across Ozzie on the Service Dog Express website and he seems like a perfect fit for my personality, family, and upcoming life situation.”

Ozzie was found by Cherry Jenkins of In Dog We Trust rescue, and was being fostered by an amazing family in Houston. Ozzie was in a household where they could not keep him due to extenuating circumstances. Joey and I drove halfway to meet Ozzie and his “dad”, with whom he was extremely bonded. The father had tears in his eyes when we left with Ozzie, but he knew that Ozzie had amazing potential and wanted to donate him to Service Dog Express so that he could help a Wounded Warrior. Ozzie was basically completely untrained, but it was his ability to bond with his owner that let us know Ozzie could do this. Andrew and the donating family are in contact and Andrew provides them Mozzie updates.

We then took Ozzie to Cherry’s Rescue, where she gratefully kept him overnight. The next morning, our kind trainer Anthony picked up Ozzie and drove him to Laurel Ridge for the first meet and greet with Andrew and Andrew’s therapist, Kay. It was love at first sight.

Things moved fast. The next day, Andrew’s plane flight was scheduled earlier than we had thought. Cherry’s husband, Gregg, met me at the airport at 5:45 am with all of Ozzie’s things, and I met Andrew there where we went through Delta security (I obtained a gate pass). Andrew was completely prepared, and we made it to the gate just in time to go over the basics of flying and how long-distance training should proceed. Andrew had already contacted a Service Dog trainer near Camp Lejeune to set up training, and I made contact with the trainer to ensure continuity of the process. I watched as the plane flew away, praying all would go well!

WELL, here is the result. Not only did Andrew do everything by the manual, but he kept in constant communication with me regarding Mozzie’s progress and paperwork needs for registration in North Carolina.

Andrew’s videos of he and Mozzie literally blew me away regarding the precision of movements, the attention to detail, and the complete transformation of a regular family dog to a model example of a Service Dog in Training with an equally amazing handler. I evaluated Andrew and Mozzie on the Assistance Dog International Public Access Test checklist and recommended minor areas still needing to be addressed for me to sign off on the test.

All I can say is that Andrew’s work with Mozzie, and his evident absolute bond with Mozzie and love for him have far surpassed my expectations.

To all who were involved in this process to help one Wounded Warrior in need, I cannot express my gratitude enough.

Andrew – you are a shining example of what dedication, perseverance, and love can do despite everything you have been through. Your courage and drive are an inspiration to us all.

(Videos shared with Andrew and Mozzie’s permission)

Wounded Warrior Jose and Dixie

From our trainer, Andrew, who is starting training with Wounded Warrior, Jose. Jose has a TBI and left side weakness. His balance is off on uneven surfaces, and he says that “feeling the wet nose of my dog always calms me down.”

“This was my initial session with Jose and his SDIT, Dixie. Dixie is a very smart lab mix, and she learns extremely quickly. When I met her, she had already learned “sit” and “down”, and responds to the words without a need for a hand gesture. Jose and I discussed the difference between “wait” and “stay”, and we went over some proper leash maneuvers. I introduced them to the game “take it” to make their sessions fun, and we worked on teaching the Dixie to sit when we stop walking and before entering a door. Both Jose and Dixie are very enthusiastic about the work we have begun, and I foresee accomplishing our Public Access Test very quickly.”

Wounded Warrior Ed found his perfect SDIT, Casper

Congratulations to Wounded Warrior, Ed, who found his perfect SDIT, Casper!!! Ed was recently medically retired. He suffers from PTSD and TBI, anxiety, depression, light sensitivity, poor balance, and a bad memory. He takes multiple medications and has a hard time remembering when to take them. He is being seen at the VISOR clinic at the Debakey VA center here Houston. Ed will be training with our trainer Bo Hughes in Houston.

Kendra, our trainer in Houston, has been fostering Casper – and now he has found his forever home!

Bo writes:

“Ed and Casper seem made for each other! Ed’s wife Amber also fell in love with Casper! Training will begin soon!”

Wounded Warrior Jason and SD Cadence

Meet Wounded Warrior, Jason, who is recovering at Audie Murphy Poly-trauma Care Rehab after a motor vehicle accident. Jason already was on his way to be discharged to PTSD and TBI from several deployments. He just loves Boxers, and Amy, (now renamed “Cadence”), has been adopted by Jason as his Service Dog. Amy has already passed her Public Access Test with a former handler who could no longer keep Cadence, so our trainer Pat truly has to do is ensure that Jason and Cadence bond and that Cadence learns to walk successfully next to Jason’s wheelchair (he will not be in it once his leg heals), and to make sure that Cadence and Jason are able to learn as a team to do the Public Access Test together.

Currently, Jason’s doctor has not given the “OK” for him to have Cadence with him in his room while he heels, but I will speak to the doctor on Monday about this. Four months is a long time, and it would be perfect time for them to bond. It is strange, because this particular new hospital is huge, but there are only eight patients – all of whom are simply recovering and have no open wounds – and all eight patients want Cadence there all the time because she cheers them up! Cadence is allowed in the hospital with Pat, our trainer…so we will see!

In the meantime, Pat has been so kindly fostering and training Cadence herself, taking her to Walmart and all other places, where Cadence is still the same, wonderful Service Dog she was a year ago! Pat evens trains Cadence with a wheelchair, so she can get used to Jason’s.

Jason is absolutely wonderful. He is pursuing his Master’s Degree, and will return home once he is healed in about four months with Cadence by his side. They already love each other!!

Click Here For The Video


Carol and Kensi

From our trainer, Andrew, who is working with Carol, who suffers from PTSD, and her SDIT, Kensi:

“This session occurred at the Forum in Universal City/ Selma. We walked around Petsmart for a while practicing our heeling maneuvers. We worked on our “sits” and “downs” in a public, busy setting, and then we grabbed some coffee at Red Robin, and Kensi did wonderfully! She wasn’t even noticeable under the table at Red Robin, and she rarely pulls on the leash when she sees distractions while we are out and about. We will do some fine tuning and adjustments with heeling around distractions. In addition, we have recently began to work with Kensi off leash!”

Wounded Warrior Jose and Dixie

An update from our trainer, Andrew, who is working with Wounded Warrior Jose, who suffers from from a TBI, pain, and PTSD, and his SDIT, Dixie.

“We worked on the basics this session. Dixie is a very food driven dog, and learns very quickly. We worked with sits, downs, and some puppy pushups. After we were warmed up, we went into stays and waits. We reinforced which foot to lead with and the correct hand signals to use when commanding the dog to stay and wait. Dixie learned the beginning of ” heel” and began to differentiate it with “come”. The end result was Dixie sitting directly in front of the handler and looking at them in anticipation of the next command. Jose and Dixie learned a simple correction using eye contact and a “not so friendly” face will work to make Dixie submit to the commands when she decides not to listen for a spell ( see pic below). Dixie is also overweight, so I taught Jose a game called “sit pretty” that will help Dixie to tone the muscles in her hips and shed some of that weight in the process,( see pic below) and will also help prevent hip dysplasia when she gets older. Both Dixie and Jose are learning the value of playing games and having fun in their sessions. They both learn extremely well and anticipate each session with vigor and excitement!”