Each year on Veterans’ Day, Three Dog Bakery donates 15% of the sales of all TDB branded treats from every outlet to Friends in Service of Heroes (FISH). Established in 2013, FISH is a non profit organization dedicated to helping veterans. To date they have provided 13 veterans with service dogs. The donation made by Three Dog Bakery on Veterans’ Day goes towards supplying a veteran chosen by FISH with a PTSD service dog. In 2014 Three Dog Bakery raised $5,000. They raised $7,500 in 2015 and last year they raised $7,666. Our goal of raising $10,000 this year is ambitious, but it is attainable with a little help from their friends.
The qualities a dog needs to be a good service dog vary by the type of service they are expected to provide. A post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) service dog must, above all, be a calming presence for their veteran. The dogs sponsored by Three Dog Bakery and provided by Friends in Service of Heroes come from trainers who specifically choose the dog for each individual veteran.
The breeds these trainers use vary from Labradors to Boykin Spaniels. A PTSD service dog may have to provide other services, such as physical support for those veterans who are physically disabled. Thus, the size of
the breed will have to be taken into consideration when placing a dog.
How the general public reacts to certain breeds should also be taken into account when choosing a breed. Part of the purpose of a PTSD service dog is to encourage the veteran to reintegrate into society. Breeds that are readily accepted by the general public, such as Retrievers, will allow the veteran to better interact with people. A dog that looks and is friendly will attract people to it and, by extension, to its veteran.
Whatever the breed, the dog must be self confident. A self-confident dog will behave more consistently and reliably than one who is constantly questioning his status in life. A confident dog will not be fearful or intimidated by new sounds or unfamiliar environments. He will remain calm in stressful situations and, in turn, help calm the veteran. He must be able to mitigate the anxiety that veterans with PTSD typically experience on a day to day basis. A good PTSD service dog will be able to adapt to any situation in any environment.
Dogs chosen to be trained as PTSD service dogs must not be aggressive. Besides being a liability, an aggressive dog will not be able to perform its tasks. PTSD service dogs must be biddable, dedicated, intelligent, determined and affectionate – traits which cannot be trained. A dog who, by nature, does not possess these traits will not make a good PTSD service dog. Dogs that do possess these traits will thrive on performing the behaviors required of them. Like the veterans they assist, some dogs are born to serve.