Warrior Canine Connection Seeking More ‘Puppy Parents’
By DANIELLE LUCEY, Editor-In-Chief
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Warrior Canine Connection, a nonprofit that uses mission-based trauma recovery to train service dogs for wounded veterans, is expanding the Veterans Affairs hospitals and Veterans Treatment Courts it is working with, adding a location in Baltimore. Additionally, the facility is looking for more volunteers to help house the dogs for the approximately two years they go through training.
The organization trains dogs soon after they are born for a life of service by pairing them up with veterans that have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries. Rocky Gall, assistance dog training instructor, explained that when a person goes through trauma, their brain secretes more cortisol, keeping these veterans in fight-or-flight mode when they are back from their service.
In an ongoing study with Walter Reed Medical Center, initial tests show that by stroking a dog 30 times per minute, the cortisol levels of both the dog and the veteran decrease, and they increase production of oxytocin. This results in calmer dogs, more prepared to handle the challenges of being a service animal, and calmer veterans, he said.
Gall said that, often, those that need PTSD therapy believe the problem lies within others and not themselves, so they don’t seek treatment. However, telling them that they are helping train a dog for another wounded veteran changes their outlook.
“Then then are looked in,” he said. “It’s a mission.”
As the organization expands, it is seeking more “puppy parents,” volunteers that house the dogs while they are training to go into service. More for information on how to volunteer, visit https://warriorcanineconnection.org.