Soldier, take me from this shelter’s cage.
Give me back my life. In return, I’ll cover your back.
I’ll be your canine warrior, your sixth sense.
I’ll stand guard into the night and chase the demons away,
the uninvited, cloaked in night sweats and darkness.
I will help you open your cage of solitude
then walk tall by your side into the light of day.
Together, our faith will rise as tall as your soldier’s pride.
We are now family in this post-911 world.
Because together, we stand.
The organization K9s For Warriors takes shelter dogs who would have otherwise been euthanized and trains them to become service dogs for post-9/11 veterans suffering from PTSD. They have saved the lives of over 800 shelter dogs, half of whom became certified service dogs, while the other half were placed in loving homes. K9s For Warriors participants pledge to house and take care of their assigned dog for the dog’s whole life.
K9s For Warriors graduate Tiffany Baker stated, “Just as Buddy is my service dog, I am Buddy’s service human.” Tiffany, along with dozens of other K9s graduates, has emphasized how her service dog gave her life a renewed sense of purpose and meaning. James Rutland, another K9s For Warriors graduate, who is now the Head Service Dog Trainer, made a similar point regarding the meaning that was brought to his life when he was paired with his service dog Dunkin, asking simply, “What’s life without Dunkin?”
Featured image: Golden Retriever Service Dog. Image credit: Found Animals Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0