I have a dog. What I mean is my son has a dog and I just mostly get to take care of it. Read on and you will see that I am not complaining. My son, McKay, begged and pleaded for a dog since he was old enough to talk. We had never had a dog. We figured owning a dog would be a lot of work and a hassle whenever we left town. We were mostly wrong about all that. We have gotten a lot more from that dog than we have given.
A Dog Becomes Family
One of my friends, out of the wild blue, stopped by on a winter’s day and asked if we wanted a puppy. He said he had one more. We went over and looked at the litter. They were cute little guys, ½ Australian Shepherd and ½ Blue Healer, cattle dogs. There was one female left. With doubts a plenty we decided to give the dog a home. Our son was as excited as I’ve ever seen him.
I wanted to name the little girl “Wolf,” or “Jet,” or “Atom.” My son named her “Sunshine” instead. I think it took a whole two days for her to be a permanent part of the family. There hasn’t been a cloudy day since Sunshine first shined on our lives.
We found out in just a few days what a lot of disabled and PTSD-suffering vets are also finding out: being around a dog can heal and calm you in ways you never before understood. That’s the truth. Sometimes we find resources in things that we never imagined or never understood. I found it also true that a person doesn’t need to understand in advance how a dog can help. That person can still be dramatically helped by the companionship of a dog. I am a witness to all that.
The bible speaks of the Balm in Gilead (Gen. 37:25; Jer. 8:22; Jer. 46:11), an ointment or a medicine that had highly valued restorative properties. We have long lost that prized recipe, the application of which leads to comfort and healing. Comfort and healing have more than one shape. Gilead’s balm has a modern version in a canine form.
I want to make an introduction. When I first heard about a nonprofit organization known as NEADS—Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans—I was certain that the premise was sound. But I have never been a soldier and have never been in war, so I couldn’t speak to whether or not a dog might promote healing from those types of pains and horrors.I looked into it, reading a bit. The evidence is overwhelming to the affirmative: dogs help healing. Dogs frequently help suffering vets.
Like most nonprofits, the good that NEADS can do is a factor of the participation they get from others who show they care by donating. I have no affiliation at all with NEADS, but I am sure these wonderful people can use your help, however modest or meager. They have an excellent outreach program to veterans and have even set up a survivor’s fund for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. To those survivors, as for qualifying veterans, NEADS provides assistance dogs at no cost.
Here is just a sampling of what NEADS assistance dogs do for their companions:
- Help with the transition to prosthetics
- Aid with balance when walking
- Retrieve and carry objects
- Press buttons and open doors
- Turn lights on and off
- Provide support on ramps and stairs
- Offer valuable social interaction
- Assist with tasks for veterans in a wheelchair
- Respond to sounds for veterans who have hearing loss
Are you a wounded vet or a vet suffering from PTSD? Do you know someone who is? Most of us do. I invite you to do something meaningful and pay this forward—the NEADS website. My own experience tells me that this is a good work, one that just might add hope into a struggling veteran’s life.
There is yet a balm in Gilead.