Greg's Story: Veteran Service Dog Program Changes Everything

"The dog chooses you."

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For the past three years, Greg and his dog, Boltun, have attended weekly Pets N Vets training sessions through the Dunes Dog Training Club. Pets N Vets is a program that provides free service dog training classes to veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injuries and emotional disorders.

Greg is a medically retired Navy veteran who was in need of a service dog.

Greg adopted Boltun, a Siberian Husky, from the Starke County Humane Society in North Judson. Although Boltun was not initially intended to be a service dog, Greg heard about the Pets N Vets program at his local veterans association and decided to enroll to help combat his difficulties with hearing and PTSD.

Boltun’s job is to block large crowds and potential dangers that might make Greg uncomfortable, as well as listen to Greg's commands. Boltun goes almost everywhere with Greg, acting as another part of him.

Although Boltun is a friendly, talkative dog, he still knows when he needs to be in action. Once when Greg and Boltun were out in public, a man was being very disruptive. Rather than allowing Greg to remain in the situation, Boltun diverted him in a different direction and as he did so Boltun stared the man down to let him know he meant business.

To this day, Greg is grateful for Boltun’s responsiveness and training that he went through to help keep him safe. 

“You don’t choose the dog. The dog chooses you,” Greg advised. "You have to have a lot of patience and don't give up on training them it is a lot of repetition of commands and dogs work at their own pace."

Since 2012, Pet N Vets has been giving back to veterans who suffer from PTSD/TBI. Pets N Vets has helped train more than 65 pairs of veterans and dogs with eleven of them receiving the official title of Service Dog.

Without United Way donors, healthcare services, like Pets N Vets, may not exist. We appreciate your support in helping us support a network of quality education, health and financial stability programs in Northwest Indiana for all residents.

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