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Vets receive service dogs thanks to $60K donation
Four Quebec veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will receive service dogs thanks to $60,000 in donations.
For some, these service dogs can completely change a life.
“There's anxiety, depression and a whole range of issues that come out of people being in places where they have seen things that human beings ought not to have seen,” said Philip Ralph of Wounded Warriors Canada, the leading mental health charity for soldiers in Canada.
“The whole idea is that the dog gives them the comfort to be able to reengage with life,” he explained.
The dogs come thanks to donations from the Mingo-McEwen Foundation and the Ste. Anne's Hospital Foundation.
“I come from military, my father-in-law was a flyer in WWII, my mom was in the army, my two uncles were in the army, so the veterans are very important,” said Robert McEwen, Director of the Mingo-McEwen Fund, which contributed $45,000 to the cause.
It takes two years and as much as $25,000 to train service dogs, but those who have them, know their worth.
“They have a tremendous sense of small among other things, and when anxiety comes up or your mood changes, so does your body chemistry. And they realize it before you do,” said Ralph.
Julie Jolicoeur knows the value of her dog Dylan after a traumatic first day on the job as a paramedic in Ottawa.
“We were called to a car accident and it was a mom and her daughter. And they were hit by a gravel truck and they were both dead on impact. But the scene was so graphic and so horrific,” she said.
The deaths, back in 2002, impacted her in ways she never imagined.
Her husband helped her get her through those terrible months.
“He had to convince me to eat, he had to convince me to sleep, he had to basically schedule my whole life because I fell apart so quickly.
When she was finally diagnosed with PTSD, there was little relief, she said.
“I was sad. I felt like I should have been stronger to put up with what I saw. I felt that other paramedics, military personal, other first responders had been through probably miles worse than what I had, and why couldn't I get myself together? I was angry,” she said.
Jolicoeur received a service, and it has changed her life.
“Dylan’s been a huge change,” said Jolicoeur, who got Dylan four months ago. “Just by seeing him every day, he makes me happy, he gets me outside, he gets me talking to people, he gets me out in the community and interacting more.”
“He is scent-based, so he can smell a cortisol shift in your body when you’re under stress or having a panic attack, and he’s getting to a place where he can smell that before I even know it’s happening. He will then put his head on my lap to indicate something is wrong.”