Dogs are known for their companionship, love, and loyalty. But the dogs of the Warrior Canine Connection are notably a breed apart.
Trained by veterans from birth through adulthood to act as service dogs for other veterans with mobility impairments or mental health issues, these dogs make life easier for both their trainer and the owner they’re eventually paired with.
The dogs, typically Golden or Labrador Retrievers, learn at least 80 commands and often help those who haven’t responded to other therapies. These dogs can open and shut doors, help someone in or out of a chair, and signal for help during an emergency. They can also pick up on symptoms of anxiety or an impending panic attack, and help thwart them with actions like gently breaking up someone’s wringing hands, or by placing their heads consolingly on a shaking leg.
Warrior Canine Connection is one of the many organizations that partner with the Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). Its dogs are trained by participants in the VTC program and provide a sense of purpose and routine that reminds many veterans of their service days. Known for their calming effect, the dogs often appear side by side with participants during their status hearings and sentencing.