gmhTODAY 15 gmhToday July Aug 2017 - Page 35

might provoke a panic attack; wake them from nightmares; even help them regulate pain management by forcing them to take breaks rather than push through the pain. But perhaps the most important part, Cortani said, “The dogs stop them from isolating. They have to get the dog out, and engage with the public.” which brought him to Operation Freedom Paws. Only a week into training, he was already feeling better. “I wake up and I want to come see him,” he said of his dog. “I go to stores and I’m thinking about what I need to buy for him to make him happy because he makes me so happy.” The Healing Power of Training Dogs Transformations are the most reward- ing part of the work, Cortani said. “The dog helps to rebuild the connection to caring, compassion and love without judgment,” she explained. Through learning to communicate with the animals, veterans learn to reconnect with family members and friends. “Once communication starts flowing, it also allows for opening up, talking to therapists and letting go of some of those things you’ve been holding onto.” She shared a story of a couple, both graduates, who came in to introduce their baby boy to her. “[The wife said] if not for the program they probably wouldn’t be together or have a family together. What greater gift is there?” When the staff feels the client is ready, the dog goes home with its new owner, which can take weeks or months, depending. In the meantime the dogs live in the kennels on site. Taking home the dog can be a bit like taking a baby home from the hospital for many of these veterans. “It’s very scary,” Cortani acknowledged. “They want this, but they’re afraid of the responsibility. We work with them to show them that caring for the dog is going to help them care for themselves.” At the end of the 48 weeks, nearly a year later, owner and dog must go through a six-hour public access test out in the community. “Our reward is we get to see them grow and change,” Cortani said. Operation Freedom Paws fills a gap for veterans, who are often under- served in their mental health treatment. Statistics suggest that approximately 22 veterans take their own lives every As part of the 48-week training program contract, every client must commit to spend two hours out of the h \K[[[ܙH[\ܛX[][\˂^H]\[[HZ[[][Hق\\YZ]H[\[ܛ\\\܈[]YX[\[ۜˈBܘ[H\\X]Z[[]8&\X]XX[]\[X[ ^H[\\]\\\™HHܘ[H[YX[H\ܜ[X[\ [\]Z[H\\HBܘ[KH\\\\[^\ۈ]B[\HH]\[\][H\[YKZ]\KY[[[H[\[[ \H^H[[H[ B[\ۈۈH\[[[›ٙ\Yܝ ۛX[ۈ܈\\\˂H[\\XYHHYHXB܈Y[\[H[Y\[\ܘYX]\[][Y[[YY 8'^x&[YH\YܙB\\[8'Hܝ[HZY [YY \H\H[ܙH[H[[و›[\[]Z\[H\YܙH\Y[ۙHXY[\\X]X[ H[[\^H]\[\Y[ܙXH[]Z]YܙH]\[˜XYHH[ ][YHY[ X[\˜ܛ[Z\Y[[X[]\ܚ^YY[\[\HHY\Y][XB\[[\HYHو]K8'x&[H[^\›ۈ[\ H][HYH[۝وYKH^H[X[Y [^H\ BY []^H]X\YBH[X[8'HHZY \H\X[\\Y\]H\YY[X[[Hܙ][[[ۘ[ \[Z[H[YHHKˈ\œYYY\[HX[YHH]^[[ ˈ[ LHH[YH\^K']ݛYYH[8'HHZY]HY\Y \X\X[Y[YH]H\[[ۋ]\[[ٛܛX][ۜ‘SH8(SԑSS8(SPTSSKUQT M™^K[ܝ[HY[\\\˜XX[H\[HX[]K][œ\Y\[YKܝ[H[\[K8'[HZ\H\Y[ZHH] ]\\[[Y[ž[\YK[x&\Hܚ][H[X˂^H[][H]^H[ 'B\][ۈYYH]\˜\][H[YHۘ][ۜ[ܘ[[ܝ[HZY 8']\H^B\HYx'H][ܙH[ˈ]\[X][H MK \X[K\Y[ [X^\™܈]\[\H[[[[Z[[ˈH\XH\\][BYHو\HH]\[^H[X[[Z\\H[ݙ\B܈\YX[Y\\\\[ [][]HY[܂Z[\[[[Yٙ]YBوHH\[YH[[^H\H[\[܈ۙYH][X[[ٙ\[\[ؙYY[BZ[[܈Z\\[ 'H\H^H[][H܈H]\[ܜ8'Hܝ[BZY H\ܘ]Y[H[][]Y\›و[X\[[H[[ܙ[[ 'HY[\Y][H\H[ۛ]\H\H[H]\B]\K܈H]\[]YX[Bܛ[K'B\][ۈYYH][][X[8']܈]['H[\[K]\^H]Y\ L HK]XX[Y\ X\[H[ق'Yx'H[YKZ^KB