We originally brought you this story in October 2007. Pictured above is Golden Gabe with his latest idea of how to help our veterans. Here at age 12, he was still making such an incredible contribution. Learn more about Paws for Purple Hearts by checking out the wonderful Fall 2007 newsletter from Dr. Bonnie Bergin’s esteemed Assistance Dog Institute.
Bergin University’s Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) program is the only one of it kind in the world. Building on the time-honored tradition of veterans helping veterans, Paws for Purple Hearts engages servicemen diagnosed with PTSD in a mission to train service dogs as part of their rehabilitative therapy. Training service dogs provides a way for veterans with PTSD to practice emotional regulation and give their days focus and purpose. The dogs help to facilitate social relationships with members of the community since a critical element of training is properly socializing the puppies and practicing their training skills in public.
Paws for Purple Hearts replaces the brotherhood of the military unit in the field with the brotherhood of shared purpose and caring for their fellow injured soldiers.
The service dogs are trained to assist in activities of daily living by opening doors, retrieving dropped items and pulling wheelchairs. These are just a few of the many benefits that a service dog provides. Plus the dog also offers unconditional love and acceptance. The service dog accompanies their partner everywhere – home, work, anywhere their lives take them. In many cases, service dogs perform tasks that were previously performed by an attendant or family member; thus reducing the veteran’s dependence on other people.
Dr. Bonita Bergin invented the concept of the Service Dog to assist people with mobility impairments in 1975. At that time she founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the first nonprofit to train and place Service Dogs. After leaving CCI In 1991, Dr. Bergin founded the Assistance Dog Institute.
Under Dr. Bergin’s leadership, ADI continues to break new ground in “Helping Dogs Help People” – founding the only college offering Master of Science and Associate of Science degrees in dog studies, creating the High School Assistance Dog program for at-risk teens, and researching how to teach dogs to read and how to train pups as young as three weeks.
The Assistance Dog Institute is doing such pivotal research work in the training of assistance dogs. I believe the future of this critical field lies in the new information that is being gleaned through the Institute.
Tonight Brian Williams did a MSNBC TV report on Paws for Purple Hearts. Just click on the image below to see this wonderful program in action.