The simple act of petting a dog can help one forget their troubles, at least for awhile. And this is the idea behind a military program which deploys therapy dogs to Army bases overseas to provide some stress relief to the troops there.
VetDogs is a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides the specially trained dogs to the Army, and to disabled veterans as well. These deployments have been going on since 2007. The dogs are trained from puppies, visiting firing ranges and Air Force bases to accustom them to the noises of guns and helicopters. They are selected for their adaptability in different settings, knowing when to play and when to relax, and their friendliness to strangers.
The main job of these dogs is to draw out the soldiers who might not be as inclined to seek therapy, or just to give them a brief respite from life out in the desert, giving them a little taste of home. They serve as “icebreakers” for therapists and psychiatrists who visit the bases also. The dogs become popular attractions, receiving lots of love (and sometimes lots of table scraps!) from the soldiers. In the end, the goal is simply stress relief rather than getting all the soldiers to talk to a therapist. If they were able to just get a break, 5 minutes even, then the dogs’ job was fulfilled.
Article written by Jenny Smith