I Survived Dog Training Evaluation (and I’m healing too?)


 

Do You Know The Healing Qualities of Your Dog ?

Let the dog training begin!  Actually, there is more to it than that.  Before the dog training company (in my case All American Dog Training Academy) begins their training of your dog(s), they do an evaluation to establish what program is best suited for you and your pooch.  This evaluation runs approximately an hour to an hour and one-half and it can be in your home.  What a delight for me that was as I have two beautiful female Boxers, or a total of 100 pounds that I do not have to tote from my house to their company. 

The training evaluation for my Miley & Casey was performed by two young men in my home and my two girls were put  to the test.  The dogs were pretty worked out after the evaluation but they knew what was expected of them.  A very good evaluation! 

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“The potential for animals to be another form of alternative medicine is enormous,” says Elspeth Ritchie, a former Army colonel who just retired as one of the service’s top psychiatrists.

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After the Dog Training Evaluation, what’s next?  Well their motto is, “An education that will last a lifetime for you and your dog(s).”  They even guarantee this in writing.  A company I recognize as after my own heart. 

Now here’s another part of the having a well-trained dog, even just a good dog by your side.  I’ve talked in my blogs of the tragedy I suffered at the loss of my husband through suicide.  What you may not realize is that I was the one who found him and, thus, through this trauma have suffered some PTSD.  It is only after much research, and after I had already rescued and adopted Miley and Casey from a shelter / sanctuary that I discovered another important plus in my life. 

As researchers test high-tech PTSD treatments (such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers and virtual-reality exposure therapy), a low-tech alternative is emerging in the form of man’s (and woman’s) best friend.  Although the government has been providing service dogs to troops who have lost their sight or suffered other physical injuries, it is only beginning to look into whether these animals can improve the lives of those who are psychically injured.  The need for good treatment options is enormous:  some 40,000 troops have been physically wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, but 10 times as many exhibit symptoms of PTSD.  Now this is a specific situation:  veterans with wartime PTSD and service dogs are required and used for these soldiers. 

However on a much smaller scale, my PTSD has had a dramatic effect upon me.  I have lately had good days – thus the reason for being able to rescue/adopt my two loveable Boxers.  But recently I had “one of those evenings followed by another one of those days” and it is dreadful, I assure you.  My girls are your normal variety type of loving canines.  And unfortunately I yelled at them for one of their slightest offenses, quite normal for any dog.  Almost immediately I began crying, wailing really and they instantly came up and kissed (or licked really) my arms and cheek.  I just fell into them, hugging them endlessly.  And I opened up to them telling them just why I felt this way, as if they were ‘human’ friends able to clearly understand.  And I felt better with my canine friends, although I sat a big pile of exhausted muscle and tissue. 

And I’ve been able to step out of my home more with the dogs rather than frightfully inside unable to do much of anything.  This is the same behavior apparently that soldiers are exhibiting with their service dogs, though on a much higher level. 

There is so much more too.  For instance, mental health experts have been looking into canine-centric therapies for years.  Sandra Barker, a psychiatry professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (and yes, she is used to all the jokes about her last name!), published a study in 1998 that found psychiatric patients’ anxiety dropped twice as much after spending 30 minutes with dogs as it did following standard therapeutic recreation involving art or music. 

And in March she published a study detailing the “buffering effect” dogs have on the stress experienced by their human partners, as measured through cortisol levels, heart rate and blood pressure. 

Given her findings, it’s not surprising that Walter Reed and other military medical centers have started stationing dogs on hospital floors to help calm patients.  “The potential for animals to be another form of alternative medicine is enormous,” says Elspeth Ritchie, a former Army colonel who just retired as one of the service’s top psychiatrists. 

Are you convinced yet of the healing quality of your dog?  I am!

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