Perhaps it’s the holiday season and the general need for a heartwarming story, but I’ve been reading article after article on unique dogs–war dogs sniffing bombs in Afghanistan, service dogs helping veterans when they return home and helping non-veterans who are physically challenged, prison inmates training these dogs, and some very special dogs who’ve overcome their own challenges. On a cold, snowy day I’m glad to share the stories with links to various sites.
First, CNN offered an incredible story in words, pictures and video following bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan for a day in “Sniffing Out Explosives”. The dogs look so matter of fact in all the photos and the video it’s hard to believe they are performing a very dangerous activity–and that’s one thing about animals that will never cease to amaze me. Humans may posture and emote and fabricate, but animals are always just who they are no matter what they happen to be doing. It’s also interesting hearing first-hand about a day of bomb-sniffing in Afghanistan, something that really brings the war home for me.
Second, one of Al Franken’s first acts as a new senator was to bring legislation that all veterans should have service animals who needed them because, as has been shown by experience, an animal companion is often the best therapy for healing emotional wounds as well as learning to cope with life with a physical handicap. True, I thought everyone was kidding when this story came out, but he was very serious, and the funding was in the Senate spending bill.
And you can read all about programs providing service dogs to veterans on this “lens” on squidoo.com entitled “Dogs for Veterans” including links to programs that will supply you with a dog if you need one. Get out the tissues–I’m a really soft touch and tend to weep through all these stories.
And not only about the healing success stories of veterans who’ve learned to live again, but about the persons who often train these dogs–prison inmates. Read about a program called “Puppies Behind Bars”, a concept originally begun by a veterinarian in Florida who saw that inmates, with lots of time on their hands and lessons to learn, would make great dog trainers, and so they did. The couple who began “Puppies Behind Bars” met with this veterinarian and started their own program in prisons in New York. The New York Times published a moving article about women at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in prison for most of the rest of their lives training puppies in Prison Puppies, and it’s accompanied by a wonderful slideshow.
And then there’s Faith, born in a junkyard without front legs, who managed to meet up with just the right family who encouraged her to walk on her hind legs alone. She visits veterans and others with physical handicaps and brings hope to them all. Read about her in Two-legged dog gives hope to disabled veterans.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!