Service Dog Story
By paladinbrt, Apr 24 2012 06:04AM
By American Working Black Russian Terrier Association (AWBRTA)
I am posting this story about a man with PTSD - this is his story about how his dogs have changed and helped him
Hi Helene, Anya,
I sat down a put some of my thoughts down about the last year. It has been one full year that I've had BRT's in my life and I wouldn't trade it for the world! Feel free to post it other places you see fit.
So it has been a year now since BRT’s entered my life. Only about 14 months that I have even known the breed existed. The year has gone by so fast it still feels like they just got here. Yet they feel like family members that have been here all along.
I have never been the sappy overly emotional type. Most people would tell you I’m very much emotionally disconnected and that I’m a hard ass and I expect way too much from people. Most of the time, they would be right. It’s just the way I’ve always protected myself though the years of hard military service. My family life before the service probably set the stage for what came next. It was no cake walk. Truth be told, I much preferred the simplicity of being in combat vs. family life. Especially, after I had joined the service.
Flash forward 20 years. I’m out of the service and I have PTSD. No shame in it I suppose. It has happened to a lot of people. It has however isolated me. I was just going to work and coming home. I might shop for food now and again but that was it. If I didn’t work in a gated community (military base) I probably wouldn’t work. I just didn’t feel safe. I carried a gun with me everywhere except work. I was also angry a lot. People disappointed me on a regular basis. They don’t keep their word, they’re late, they don’t have any true sense of duty, Ect. Ect. Ect. Even those who were in the military at one point, seemed to fall into the same group of disappointing humans. Not a healthy point of view I know. I was headed down a very dark road at this point. Depression was setting in and in a really bad way.
Turns out there is always hope. It can come from some very unexpected places. Brianne mentions to me a new program for folks with PTSD involving dogs. I’ve had dogs in my life as long as I can remember but I hadn’t had my very own since before I joined the service. (Turns out I still down own any dogs, the BRT’s own me!) I had worked with a lot of other people’s dogs over the years and I had forgotten how rewarding it was. I start looking at breeds that don’t shed. Well it turns out hypoallergenic dogs are lumped into the same group. Good thing too. Otherwise I’d have never heard about BRT’s. I’m look down the list and I see “Black Russian Terrier.” What the hell is that? I’m thinking. I pull up the picture and start reading the breed description. The more I read the more hooked I get. They bond tightly to their owners and families, they need daily exercise, they need lots of attention and have to be with their families, and of course let’s not forget the grooming. Easy to train (a bit of an under statement really) courageous, fearless, and don’t bark unless there is a serious need. It sounded like me and this breed had a lot in common. (Although I’m sure I bark a lot more than they do.) Some people would most likely find a lot of these traits to be a hassle or way too much work for a dog. I usually tell people it would be if they were just dogs. To top it off they have the most human like eyes. They trap you if you stare too long!
I read everything I could find about the BRT. A lot of it was just regurgitated info from other sites. I finally stumbled across one that seemed to have the info written as if they wanted to dissuade you from wanting a BRT. That and it truly sounded like someone who lived day and night with them. After a god knows how many emails back and forth Helene gives me the email address to Anya. She has two BRT’s that are service dogs. Two of them?? Anya turns out to be a gem and a wealth of info on how to train your own service dog and where to find more info on the subject. I can’t say enough about her or Helene who has been on call for me since that very first email.
A short time later Helene says she has two adults that need homes and she thinks they’ll fit in with my family here. At first I was a little disappointed. I wanted puppies but she has a gift for picking the right dogs for the right people and she had some good points to make as to why adults would fit better. She was spot on. I made the 10 hour drive to pick them up half way. Mato, my boy, gave me a tongue bath as soon as he hopped out of the travel crate. Tia, my first girl, was a little hesitant at first but 2 miles down the road she was lying with her head in my lap with her paw in my hand. I was warned that they would have me trained in a short amount of time. How true that was! The 10 hour ride really helped the bonding process. By the time I got home with them they would follow me room to room. Unfortunately I lost Tia a few months later. My little princess was only with me a short time but she made a huge impact on my life. I still shed tears for her when ever I think about her. A month after I lost Tia her sister Nita came to live with me. Once again the 13 hour drive fostered the bonding process. She was still a bit skittish once we got home but she had known Mato from an earlier time and she seemed to relax and settle in. She would not leave my side or let me out of her sight for anything. These days she’ll let me out of her sight but only if I tell her to stay or I bribe her with her kong. She is extremely clingy but I don’t mind that at all. It has made training her both very easy in some respects and a little difficult in others but not much. Both Nita and Mato are almost done with their service dog training. Mato needs to learn to ignore other service dog teams and he’ll be done. Nita just needs a little bit of reinforcement on the basics.
It has been an incredible year for me. Sometimes it has been very taxing, both physically and mentally. The end result is they have brought be back from the brink of who knows what and put me back on a steady path. They give me a reason to get up in the moring and come home after work. They reward my efforts with their love, affection and loyalty like nothing I have ever experienced. They have made me a better person in spite of myself. For that, I shall be eternally grateful to all three of them. Helene and Anya, I shall always be grateful to you guys as well for putting up with all my questions and for setting me up for success and your encouragement. I don’t think I could have gotten this far without you guys. Thank you for everything!!
I could take this wonderful story, and replace his "I"'s, with my "I"'s.
Armani came to me after PTSD; after two attempts to return to 911 work; after my mother died.
What I know is that this BRT came to me when I only existing moment to moment, day after day; where my tears, and fears kept me from myself. I lost my tremendous confidence, fearlessness, and courage. One walk at a time, this BRT brought me from my self imposed isolation. This BRT stands beside me and in front of me, where ever and when ever we are. This BRT has been a witness to my pain, my fear, my losses. This BRT is a participant in my triumphs and returning joys.
I used to expect too much of people. Somewhere along the way, I stopped expecting anything. I was able to convince myself others being on time, keeping promisses, being there, showing up...were all gifts to be happy about. The lack of, to be tucked in a box in the back of my mind.
What I know is this BRT is loyal, consistent, and constant. With my new girl Tsessa, these BRT's are my my reality check on every sound, sight and even touch that is not really there. They are my guage of those things that are really there, my buffers, shields and strength.
These BRT's are participants in my triumphs and my returning joys.
Please if you have a story to share, share with us.
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