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Special Needs Dogs Help Troops Recover From PTSD

Image: Special Needs Dogs Help Troops Recover From PTSD
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By    |   Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 12:40 PM

Many of America's veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can have a significant negative effect on their health and well-being. In many cases, special-needs dogs have been able to help veterans manage their symptoms and recovery from PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD can include recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of a traumatic event, flashbacks, upsetting dreams, and severe emotional distress or physical reactions to reminders of the event, reports the Mayo Clinic.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has a resource section for veterans that states: "Owning a dog can lift your mood or help you feel less stressed. Dogs can help people feel better by providing companionship. All dog owners, including those who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can experience these benefits."

But this generic description of how special-needs dogs can help America's troops pales in comparison to the stories PTSD sufferers tell about their canine pals.

Iraq veteran James Tessneer served three tours in four years and has such a severe case of PTSD that he needs a live-in caregiver. Tessneer was recently provided a specially trained dog by an organization, One Warrior Won (OWW).

The organization is working to save K9 dogs that have already served and to provide special-needs dogs to veterans with PTSD.

Tessneer says he "prayed for a dog that will help him break free from his constant mental hell," reports USA Today. Now, thanks to OWW and a nonprofit organization called Patriot Charities, Tessneer has Decimo, a special dog that was going to be euthanized but was saved and trained by OWW dog handler Christian Stickney.

Decimo is already having a positive impact on Tessner's life. "My daughter's been asking me to go to the beach. I haven't set foot on sand since I came back from Iraq, I just didn't think it was something I could do. [But] having him, I think it is something I could do."

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Veteran Adam Renteria spent six years in the U.S. Army. He returned home with PTSD and brain injuries and his life took a terrible downward spiral. Rentaria struggled to regain control of his life and although he made some strides, he still suffered. Then Pets for Vets matched Rentaria with a special-needs dog named Rakassan and the dog has changed his life.

Renteria said he did not expect the dog to have such a positive impact. "If I’m ever in a situation where there might be violence, I would rather take my dog and go home than fight. The other therapies gave me tools to manage my PTSD, which was good, but I wasn’t getting better. I was still disconnected from everyone around me, until I got Rakassan."

Each veteran's story is different and every dog brings something special to the relationship. But one thing is clear: Special needs dogs can help veterans manage their PTSD.

According to Psych Central, "veterans have reported receiving a variety of benefits from their service dogs: fewer nightmares, reduced need for medications, improved sense of security, decreased anxiety, and overall quality of life improvements for themselves and their caregivers."

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Many of America's veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can have a significant negative effect on their health and well-being. In many cases, special-needs dogs have been able to help veterans manage their symptoms and recovery.
special needs dogs, troops, PTSD, recover
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2015-40-07
Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 12:40 PM
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