When US Navy veteran Matt Masingill is about to experience an anxiety attack, he doesn’t always know. But his service dog, Dozer, will know.
Matt and Dozer are both graduates of K9 For Warriors‘ unique training program, which pairs veterans experiencing PTSD with rescue dogs who’ve been trained to help vets cope. These pups recognize warning signs of panic and anxiety attacks and begin to comfort their veterans before symptoms become too severe.
Once rescued, the dog undergoes a thorough training regiment before being introduced to their veteran. Together, they undergo three more weeks of training before the pup returns home with their veteran.
After completing his training with Dozer, Matt Masingill returned home and found that large crowds and public places weren’t as daunting knowing that Dozer was by his side.
As important as the bond between a dog and their human can be, veterans rely on dogs for more than just emotional support. That’s why K9s For Warriors implemented a training program which recognizes the medical value of service dogs to veterans with PTSD.
“We’re working with Purdue University and the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative to study with hard science what we already know, which is that there’s a chemical change in the warrior’s mind in the presence of a dog,” said Rory Diamond, the executive director for K9s For Warriors.
K9s For Warriors even offers service dogs for veterans suffering from the trauma of sexual assault or other non-combat-related injuries. Over 127 teams have graduated the program with a 95% success rate.
“It’s an amazing rally of the community to put this together for us,” said Danique Masingill, the spouse of Matt Masingill. Danique is also a veteran of the Navy and director of operations for K9s For Warriors.