The urgent needs of military veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) provided a beacon for Helping Paws to broaden its mission to meet this need. In a few short years, Helping Paws dogs have helped veterans affected by trauma lead more fulfilling lives.
If you are a veteran with PTSD who is interested in applying for a Service Dog and you meet our Eligibility Requirements, please start the application process by completing a Letter of Interest..
Aric and his service dog, Minnie: I recently retired from military service after 25 years, 9 months and 28 days served. I was really nervous about getting a service dog! I was placed with my dog Minnie in July. There have been so many positive effects that she has had on myself & my family! She picks up dropped items, turns on lights, has woken me from nightmares, takes off my socks, she watches me all the time, gives me kisses, gets me out for exercise and she keeps me in the present. So far we have gone to baseball games, restaurants, movie theaters and shopping. Minnie loves to swim so her favorite place so far has been going to my sister’s cabin.
I look forward to living instead of hiding.
Jenna and her service dog, Jaya: Jenna’s sleep improved the first night she brought Jaya home with her. Jaya still asks permission to jump up in bed despite sleeping with Jenna since that first night. Family and friends have noted that Jenna talks less about her imperfections since having Jaya. Prior to receiving Jaya, Jenna had signed up for the Lone Survivor program in Utah. Without Jaya by her side, Jenna would have canceled due to anxiety about the trip and flying. Together as a team, Jenna and Jaya were able to successfully fly to Utah and complete the Lone Survivor program.
Paul and his service dog, Frannie: A Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, Paul has suffered debilitating effects from PTSD for more than 40 years. His match with Golden Retriever Franny brought a quickly apparent change to his life: On their first morning together, Paul woke up because Franny was gently licking his hand. He realized after the fact that he had been having a nightmare. True to her training, Franny recognized his stress and worked to alleviate it. Franny accompanies Paul to many places, including such busy venues as the State Fair, but day after day, night after night, she places herself between Paul and the door. Her presence allows him to rest, knowing his friend is watching out for him.
How can an Assistance Dog help a veteran with PTSD?
- By acting as a barrier in crowds, allowing the veteran the choice to maintain personal space or boundaries
- By waking or reorienting the veteran when he or she has nightmares or flashbacks
- By turning on a light in a dark room
- By entering a room before the veteran enters to relieve the veteran’s hypervigilance
- By bringing the veteran a phone to talk to someone about anxiety
- By ‘speaking’ on command to either draw attention to a veteran or act as a deterrent if the veteran is feeling threatened
- By helping reduce anxiety by touching and being close to the veteran
- By being a trusted companion and providing unconditional love every minute of every day
Are you eligible to receive a Helping Paws Assistance Dog? You must be
- A veteran with a diagnosis of PTSD
- A resident within Minnesota or the bordering areas of the surrounding states
- Financially able to take full responsibility for a dog, including but not limited to dog food and veterinary care. Costs such as annual vaccinations, additional veterinary needs, dog food and dog toys may cost upwards of $1,000 per year.
- Able to attend the Team Training course held at the Helping Paws Training Center in Hopkins, MN
- Willing to participate in follow-up training
- Able to provide a stable home environment