Group trains puppies to be therapy dogs for veterans - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Group trains puppies to be therapy dogs for veterans

Posted: Updated:
Retired Lieutenant Colonel John Charles said 4-year-old Dozer changed his life forever. (WFSB) Retired Lieutenant Colonel John Charles said 4-year-old Dozer changed his life forever. (WFSB)
WINCHESTER, CT (WFSB) -

There was a gathering of adorable puppies, wounded veterans and animal trainers on Monday. It was all to raise money and awareness about service animals and how much it costs to train them.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs and insurance companies don't cover service dogs. Officials with Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities are trying to change that and they said these dogs have a definite health benefit for vets with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and opioid addiction.

“He helps me with panic attacks, if I am in a big group and I feel overwhelmed by the noise,” retired Lieutenant Colonel John Charles said.

Charles was talking about how 4-year-old Dozer changed his life forever. He’s had his trusty Labrador retriever for about two years. Before that he said life was miserable.

Dealing with severe physical injuries from serving in Iraq, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and opioid pain medication addiction. Now, his medication is greatly reduced and Dozer reminds him to take it.

"When my iPhone goes off and a certain alarm, which he hears he will perk up, and he will look at me,” Charles said. “And he will come over and start tugging on the lanyard and tug me to my backpack, which is where I keep my medication and his treats."

The dogs come from Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities in Winchester. As they grow from puppies, they're trained by local youth groups that work to socialize them.

Then, they spend time with women in prison, who better train them, before they're finally ready for a forever home with a veteran.

"I've gotten calls from psychiatrists saying the mood change of the patient is astronomical,” Carolyn Sires, physical therapist said. “It doesn't jump step by step it is leaps and bounds."

The seven-week-old puppies will be given to a veteran by the age of two years old.   

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.