25 March 2014 @ 08:36 am
Freedom dogs  
Evoking the child's reaction can de-escalate the adult's reaction.

In ConDor's dealers room, there was a fluffy nine-month-old puppy sitting decorously on a mat. Being an animal person, I magnetted straight over, and seeing the broad red harness on the dog's back, I realized it was a service animal. So I asked the woman volunteer if I could pet the dog. She explained that the pup was in training, and I should hold out my hand.

The puppy came forward to sniff my hand and wag its tail. I got in a scratch and a pet or two before the volunteer made a brief signal. The pup returned to its mat, got praise, and I turned my attention to the type of service--Freedom Dogs.

It's a 100% volunteer organization, in fact the volunteers pay 35 bucks to join. The grim statistics about there being more suicides than combat deaths in some years bring the people out to work with the dogs, and match them with vets recommended by the military medical staff.

Once you read about PTSD you recognize some of its many forms in reading history. At the site there's a clip of a vet who consented to be interviewed, along with his dog. It was more poignant as it was shot at Sea World, where I was supposed to spend the day Sunday, but events conspired to have me sitting in a hospital instead. Later my daughter and I went to Fiesta Island next to Sea World--we could hear the seals barking--where dogs can run free off the leash. Dog heaven. All kinds of dogs everywhere, readily agreeing to be civil and share territory. There was no dog drama. They sniffed and circled and wagged tails, then shot off to explore and sniff some more.

We were talking about dogs, and how smart they are--how little humans understand them. How painful it is to see their unconditional love trampled upon either willfully or ignorantly, because our methods of communication are so different, and there have been so many pseudo-scientific "studies" proving how stupid animals are.

Service dogs are so important to the humans who need them, but I used to wonder, what about the dogs? I've been very interested in posts like this in which Dave Trowbridge and Deborah Ross talk about the process of adopting a retired service dog.
Tags: ,
( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
asakiyume: turnip lanternasakiyume on March 25th, 2014 03:43 pm (UTC)
Awww, this is a lovely story (though I am distressed to hear you had a hospital visit). Dogs are wonderful, wonderful friends.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, my daughter had a paint fleck that had worked up under her eyelid. Nothing horrendous. But it just took many, many hours of waiting.
(no subject) - asakiyume on March 25th, 2014 03:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 25th, 2014 03:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Chiara Castelnuovo-McKenziecmcmck on March 25th, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC)
Being a military historian I run across case after case of PTSD in historical time even before gunpowder weapons. 'One arrow storm too many, if you like.'

Another friend on here has published a book about dealing with (ongoing, even now) PTDS with her Vietnam vet husband.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. It shows up starkly in Simplicissimus as well as memoirs about Trafalgar, Borondino, Waterloo, etc.
(no subject) - rachelmanija on March 25th, 2014 06:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 25th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rachelmanija on March 25th, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 25th, 2014 06:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cmcmck on March 25th, 2014 06:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rachelmanija on March 25th, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cmcmck on March 25th, 2014 06:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 25th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cmcmck on March 25th, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 25th, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rachelmanija on March 25th, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 25th, 2014 09:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fidelioscabinet on March 26th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 26th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wild_patience on March 26th, 2014 03:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac on March 26th, 2014 11:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
Queen of the Skiesqueenoftheskies on March 25th, 2014 04:39 pm (UTC)
I saw them in the dealers room and thought what a wonderful service that was. So much love for people who need it so much.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 05:17 pm (UTC)
Lucy Huntzingerathenais on March 25th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC)
It's why I get cranky at people who claim they have service dogs when what they have is a pet that brings them comfort (undoubtedly genuinely needed).
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 06:36 pm (UTC)
I wonder if they even understand the concept.
bunn: Bayingbunn on March 25th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
The idea of a service dog that is reactive to other dogs and never gets to do anything but work is very sad.

I know a guide dog and his blind owner. He gets taken to the park to run about and sniff and do dog stuff regularly, and his doggy manners are impeccable. She has a seeing-eye human who acts as her spotter while the dog is off having fun with his dog buddies - but she insists on always picking up, even though legally she's exempt from doing that. The seeing-eye human is firmly told to stand at a distance and go 'left a bit... right a bit' so she can home in on the offending deposit. :-D
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 08:04 pm (UTC)
Good on her, especially for taking the dog to the park to just be a dog. I bet they have a good life together.
bunn: Sunset houndsbunn on March 26th, 2014 09:39 am (UTC)
They do, but everything I've read about animal behavioural theory probably he's a better service dog as a result too - more emotionally resiliant, with a stronger bond with his owner, and less likely to suddenly 'fail' out of working mode under stress. I know that the program he comes from emphasises the importance of playing with the dog and exercising him out of working mode.

I'm quite surprised to read about a working dog that is reactive when not working, I thought guide dogs would usually be removed from the program if not comfortable with other dogs.
(no subject) - sartorias on March 26th, 2014 12:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bunn on March 27th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 27th, 2014 12:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
houseboatonstyx: smaller-healing-buddhahouseboatonstyx on March 26th, 2014 03:57 am (UTC)
I know a 25-pound service dog who works very hard for maybe 15 hours a week -- accompanying his human on medical trips, dodging wheelchairs and gurneys, lying very still during the human's treatments, perhaps without break for half a day at a time. At home he still stays close to his human (monitoring the human's blood sugar). But at home, all is love and play and rest.

Edited at 2014-03-26 03:58 am (UTC)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 26th, 2014 04:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Kalimackalimac on March 26th, 2014 11:53 am (UTC)
I'm not a dog person, and I get very uneasy with loose dogs in human space. But that's why I strongly support there being places for letting dogs be dogs. They need this, and the reason so many of them misbehave in human space is that they're not getting what they need. I actually enjoy visiting dog parks and watching the dogs romp around, as long as I'm outside and don't have to be in there with them.
(no subject) - sartorias on March 26th, 2014 12:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on March 25th, 2014 10:33 pm (UTC)
There was an article in todays newspaper that said marihuana is being explored as a helpful aide
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
Re: ptsd
I've heard that.
makoiyimakoiyi on March 26th, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
Animals are so forgiving and so basic, and that is where it counts. Dogs and horses are wonderful for soldiers suffering from PTSD because it is all about trust. I've studied this a lot and dogs can give confidence when someone is having a flashback, simply because they are 'there'. A rock to cling to. The 'back' that many soldiers had in theater is missing on their return home. A dog can give that back to them, plus a purpose. The simple acts of caring fro an animal, walking and feeding, who is dependent on you, can change a lot when it comes to the trust issues. It's love given without baggage and it can help a lot.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 26th, 2014 04:30 am (UTC)
Oh, yes. So true.
anna_wing on March 26th, 2014 09:34 am (UTC)
To get the benefit would it be necessary for the animal to be of a social species, like a dog or a horse, so that it could actually develop a complex relationship with the human?

Edited at 2014-03-26 09:34 am (UTC)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 26th, 2014 12:49 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking yes, but I am no expert.
(no subject) - serialbabbler on March 26th, 2014 02:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 26th, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
It's a Rock!dragonsblog on March 26th, 2014 11:40 pm (UTC)
I'd recommend reading The Possibility Dogs by Susannah Charleson for anyone who's interested. She talks about service dogs, training dogs, and working with dogs that most people have given up on. It's really fascinating. Just a drive by book reccomendation!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 26th, 2014 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Anonymous) on March 27th, 2014 05:07 pm (UTC)
discarded pets
I have for years had friends who are active in pet assisted therapy, in hospitals and out, for medical and war trauma and just the stress of living in our increasingly crazy society. They use dogs and horses, and I have heard of cats in old-age homes. I have to say that I find it heartening that we are finding new jobs for our old friends and staunch allies. It makes me hope that not so very many of them will wind up on the trash heap (and this goes also for the people who give their futures for this country and find themselves useless and ignored). Long may they wave!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 27th, 2014 05:09 pm (UTC)
Re: discarded pets
Yes and amen to that!
Eglantine Brandybuck: Bagginscarbonelle on March 31st, 2014 01:31 am (UTC)
I don't think the problem is that studies purport to show animals as stupid, but that we have become the kind of people who value intelligence (or what some fondly imagine to be intelligence) more than kindness.

We're sterilizing the mentally handicapped now, and it was only a public outcry caused by some people in the blogosphere getting the word out, that a mentally handicapped three year old wasn't denied access to a transplant.

Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 31st, 2014 02:14 am (UTC)
Oh, that is so disturbing. ugh.
( 50 comments — Leave a comment )