December 2018 Charity Spotlight: America's VetDogs
Who can forget the iconic photo of President George HW Bush’s service dog, Sully, faithfully lying beside the president’s casket? This picture beautifully represents the mission of America’s VetDogs to help those who have served our country honorably live with dignity and independence. Sully was specially trained and specifically matched to provide support and companionship to the former president in his daily activities.
America’s VetDogs created its service dog programs to help provide renewed independence and enhanced mobility to veterans, active-duty service members, and first responders with disabilities. Dedicated to America’s heroes, VetDogs is honors the sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform and continually strives to ensure they receive the tools needed to once again be self-reliant.
A well-trained service dog provides motivation to tackle everyday challenges by supporting daily activities. VetDogs trains and places dogs with individuals who have unique needs and challenges.
Hearing dogs for those who have lost their hearing
Service dogs for those with physical disabilities
Physical and occupational therapy dogs to work with amputees in military and VA hospitals
Combat stress control dogs to be deployed in theater
PTSD service dogs to help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder
Push. Tug. Brace, Retrieve. These are the four foundations of service dog training tasks. There are over 200 tasks that service dogs can be taught based on these foundations. Once a VetDogs’ client is matched with a dog, instructors customize training to meet that specific client's needs. Tasks include providing balance and stability, opening and closing doors, retrieving a variety of items, turning on and off lights, alerting for seizure responses, and assisting with vision and hearing needs.
From WWII veterans to more recent conflict veterans, America's VetDogs clients share one common goal: to live without boundaries. Approved applicants travel to VetDogs’ Smithville, NY facility to participate in a two-week in-residence training program. Using a meticulous curriculum and innovative methods, certified trainers provide individualized training to ensure students and dogs bond and learn how to work together as a team.
America’s VetDogs is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but all VetDogs’ services are provided at no cost to eligible clients, with funding from generous individuals, corporations, foundations, businesses, and service and fraternal clubs.
If you are wondering what is next for Sully, he enjoyed the holidays at America’s VetDogs headquarters in Smithtown, NY. After his stay, he will join fellow VetDogs facility dogs SGT Dillon and SGT Truman at Walter Reed Bethesda. Sully’s new mission is to assist with physical and occupational therapy to wounded soldiers and active duty personnel during their journey to recovery.