Vietnam Era Veteran Denise and Sandy

From our trainer, Brenda, who is working with Wounded Warrior, Denise. Denise is a Vietnam Era Veteran with PTSD due to Military Sexual Trauma (MST) while on active duty. Her PTSD was so strong that she has been a Mental Health patient for almost 25 years. This is devastating, as we all knew that those who fought in Vietnam rarely received the treatment they so desperately needed. Denise also got hurt in basic training, which progressed over the years and led to her being in a wheelchair. She can walk and stand for short periods, but not much more. Her SDIT, Sandy, is already very well-trained in obedience – a remarkable and admirable feat for someone who has been through all that Denise has had to endure.

Brenda, also in a wheelchair, had two sessions with Denise and Sandy. She writes:

“At our first session, I went through the initial assessment of Denise’s needs and Sandy’s behavior. We went over all indoor Public Access Test, such as “sit”, “stay”, “down”, “watch me”, etc. I also had Denise show me what she had worked on with Sandy most recently. She “comes” and “sit/stays” extremely well. Sandy is very motivated by treats as well as praise, and caught on quickly to “down.” She will be easy to work with!

At our second session, we went outside to finish going through the outdoor Public Access Commands. Sandy heels well next to the wheelchair, but just needs a bit of refinement. Sandy has a perfectly controlled “load” and “unload” into a vehicle, and maintains very good focus on Denise, ignoring most distractions. However, Denise said that Sandy is very protective of her when other dogs approach, but Denise can get her calm again quite easily. I worked on outside “downs” with her. Denise is going to work on “sit-stay-come” with increasing distances. She is going to start using a cane at times, and I told her I will train Sandy to adjust to this so that Denise doesn’t hurt her back.”