Dogs deliver therapy to PTSD/TBI veteran

A disabled Army veteran coping with PTSD and TBI shares her story about how dogs have changed his life. He would like to see the Veterans Administration provide benefits to support pets adopted by veterans for their own self therapy. His story speaks to the heart of what we do at Pets for Patriots in connecting last-chance pets with veterans. Many of our adopters talk about being imperfect or misunderstood, and feel a kinship with unwanted animals that are often described in similar terms. We believe this strong identification with the predicament of an “unwanted” animal is what accounts for the deep bonds that these connections ultimately create.

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My name is Laramie and I am a disabled veteran. I served in OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom has since been renamed Operation New Dawn] 2003-2004 and I recently returned home from supporting OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) 2010.

Before I went to Afghanistan in 2010, I was already diagnosed for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) from my first tour of duty in Iraq in 2003-2004. On July 15, 2010, I was injured in combat in Afghanistan and my world changed for the worse. Not only did I have a physical disability, but my mental and emotional disability got even worse.

While I refused to be sent back to the states after my surgeries, I began to go online while I was in physical therapy in Afghanistan. I began to research dogs and I became interested in pit bulls. While I was in physical therapy, I purchased four pitbull puppies that weren’t even born yet. When I returned home from Afghanistan in November 2010, I went to pick up my first puppy in December 2010. I picked up my second and third up in January 2011, and I picked up my fourth one in March 2011.

I decided to get the pit bull puppies because I could relate to them. They are animals that are misunderstood and given a bad name based on what society says.

As a soldier, I’m misunderstood and often times I’m given a bad name because of my PTSD.

Since I’ve had my dogs, they have truly helped with my depression and other things that I deal with day in and day out. I didn’t know anything about your adopt a pet program until today, but I think that you all should put something in your program for soldiers like myself who didn’t know about your program, but went out and purchased a dog to help with their self therapy. Many people don’t realize the impact a dog can have in a person’s life and the impact a person can have in a dog’s life.

I wouldn’t trade my dogs for anything in the world, and I think your program is a great idea for the dogs as well as the veterans. I don’t work anymore because of my injuries and, at the age of 33, that is very depressing in itself.

My dogs help keep my head above the water and they make feel like I’m still somebody.

I can’t do everything I use to do and that makes me feel useless, but my dogs show me that they love me and they need me. The love my dogs give me go just as far as the love a human can give.

Comments

  1. Jan Hill says:

    Please believe you are somebody. You are a hero who went and fought so we all could live in safety and none of us can ever repay you for that. I am glad you have your dogs to help get you through the bad times. Never underestimate the sacrifices you made for us, we will never.

  2. Maribeth Topalanchik says:

    Dear Laramie:

    As a mom of two active duty soldiers I want to first thank you for your service.

    Second, I tell people my dogs save me every day.

    I have two rescued diggity dogs and one foster pit bull pup.

    I love them and they love me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Over time, I hope that you find comfort in your animals and that sharing your story will alleviate your depression.

    Educating people about what happened to you, the bully breed, and how your relationship with your animals has changed your life is a gift.

    Thank you and take care.

    Maribeth

  3. Dear Laramie, thanks or sharing your awesome story. Years ago I was medically retired, told to stay home and collect disability, yeah that lasted a day. Life got better after getting a lab puppy. We worked as a tremendous pet therapy team until one week before he died; at a very old age. Now, while I don’t work at a job (money), I have been given a wealth of love and understanding visiting those alone, dying and forgotten. My world is so bigger and brighter now. Close one door, and open your heart and mind to endless possibilites. Blessings……..

  4. I can relate to what you are saying about your relationship with your dogs. My husband served in both OIF and OEF and had PTSD and TBI and many other injuries and illnesses and our dog was such a comfort to him. I believe our dog made him feel safe somehow in our home. I believe he had to be on guard for so long that it was always hard for him to feel safe and when he would sleep during the day at times and anyone would come by the house our dog would always be on the watch and let him know someone was there and so he felt safe. He also had a strong bond with the dog and they just loved each other. Sadly my husband passed away May 24 due to his illnesses. He is missed dearly. Remember that you are special and I have a special place in my heart for veterans. I have seen in my husband and his friends he has served with just how special they all are and so selfless and giving in a way that no other people are and I just want to say a big THANK YOU!

  5. There is currently a place in FL training dogs for exactly this, to help war vets with PTSD. It is government backed and approved, and shows a lot of promise. The soldiers do well with these dogs and can actually function better after they have them. The dogs are like a comrade and are always there, a constant for these soldiers with PTSD. The bond IS great between man and dog, I hope to help them with rescued German shepherds to train for this purpose.

    • SGT Chuck Spires says:

      I am currently at walter reed in bethesda MD i am trying to get a service dog for PTSD/TBI all the docs here recomend it for me but dont know how to get ahold of any of these to maybe get approved for one .. what is the name of the orginization in FL .. i would appreciate the info ,, thank you

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