It was a football stadium full of crowd favorites last night, including an honor guard of more than 30 Helping Paws service dogs.

Super Bowl LII kicks off on Sunday, but the Wednesday night competition in Saint Paul between the Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team versus a team of former NFL players held significance for those playing and those watching. The 20 players on the WWAFT roster—veterans who lost a limb in the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts—took on legends of pro football, including former Minnesota Vikings Rich Gannon, Robert Smith, Ben Leber, Sage Rosenfels, Todd Bouman, and Talance Sawyer.

Let’s cut to the chase: The Wounded Warriors extended their win streak to 18-0, defeating the NFL greats 63-42. 

The night was a demonstration of determination to overcome setbacks and persevere through obstacles, something the Helping Paws service dogs get familiar with every day as they work beside their lifelong partners. Wounded Warriors invited Helping Paws to be a presence at the game in an effort to highlight the need for service dogs for veterans. The dogs and their foster home trainers lined up as a welcome for the players’ introductory charge onto the field. The entrance and welcome ranked high in terms of lumps-in-the-throat moments.



A number of media outlets showcased the story. This video clip from KSTP shows the Helping Paws dogs:

Wounded Warriors Play NFL Legends.  



All photos courtesy of Steve McCuskey.





By Eileen Bohn, Director of Programs


Judy Michurski (Programs Department Administrative Coordinator) and I recently attended an Assistance Dogs International PTSD Trainers’ Symposium sponsored by America’s Vets Dogs and Warrior Connection. It was held in Gaithersburg, Maryland October 27 – 31. Over 160 people from the United States, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia and England attended this conference. It was the first of this type of seminar for organizations that provide service dogs for Veterans and we are so grateful that we were able to participate. We learned so much that will benefit our program providing service dogs for Veterans that are affected by PTSD.

Topics covered included

  • the role of the mental health consultant in the placement of service dogs with Veterans
  • the variety of cues that can be used for a service dog for a Veteran
  • current research regarding placement of service dogs with Veterans
  • how to enroll your service dog in the Veterans Administration “dog of record” program plus resources at the Veterans Administration
  • information on suicide awareness. 

We came away with a sense of seriousness regarding the effects of PTSD and new ideas that will benefit the Veterans we serve. We also renewed acquaintances with people from other assistance dog organizations.

We were able to attend this symposium thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Helping Paws has been a fully accredited member of Assistance Dogs International since 2007. 

On January 16, 2018 Assistance Dogs International approved new standards for programs that place service dogs with Veterans who have military-related PTSD. Eileen Bohn is a member of the ADI Accreditation Committee and was involved with the development and approval process.