COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Each November, our nation takes time to honor veterans for their service to our country. Often the sacrifices they make result in health impacts, which is why Canine Companions is doing their part to help those veterans overcome the challenges.
So far, Canine Companions has provided hundreds of service dogs to U.S. war veterans across the country. That includes central Ohio local Rob Garlick, who received his service dog, Fritter, in March of this year.
Fritter was specifically trained for Rob, to help him deal with post-traumatic stress, which he developed following five years of military service.
“Before I had Fritter, I struggled to even leave the house, and now with Fritter, I know he’s gonna interrupt the anxiety and hypervigilance before I spiral out of control,” said Garlick.
Canine Companions trains veteran service dogs to identify each veteran’s different stressors, and work to disrupt their symptoms. They also train the dogs to support their handlers in crowded public situations, by creating barriers and distance. Additionally, the dogs work on tasks such as nightmare interruption, turning on lights, and retrieving items.
“When I start to get anxious I’ll clench my fists, or I’ll tap my feet, and that’s what he was trained to see and look for. When he sees that he’ll nudge me, or put his head in my lap, and that keeps me from getting worse,” said Garlick.
According to Canine Companions, 95 percent of veterans who receive a service dog from the organization notice a decrease in the severity of their symptoms.
That certainly holds true for Rob.
“Its been life-changing. Before, I barely smiled, I barely left my house,” said Garlick.
Fast forward to now, Rob, with the support of Fritter, gets out to tell his story, in hopes of reaching someone else who may not realize that it’s okay to ask for help.
“I come up here at least once a month, or about every 60 days, and just advocate because I know what it did for my life, and I want it to be like that for other people,” said Garlick.
If you’re a veteran living with post-traumatic stress, and want to see if you qualify for a Canine Companions service dog, click here.
Or if you’d like to donate to the Canine Companions Veterans Fund, click here. For a limited time, those donations are being matched, dollar for dollar, up to $65,000.