Four legged creatures with waggly tails can save lives:

Last night, as I was flipping through channels, I came across a show entitled: CNN Heroes; Everyday People Changing the World.

The show featured Mary Cortani. She founded a nonprofit that matches war veterans who suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and depression with their own service dogs.

Afghanistan war veterans have to start their lives all over again.  Their disability does not get the proper recognition it deserves.  Unwanted dogs (from rescue and shelters), help in ways that are beyond the scope of human beings.  As I was watching the show, I was deeply struck by the strong bond between the veterans and their dogs.  I am a dog lover myself and understand the boundless strength I get from my dog Nelly.

My thoughts go back to a veteran by the name of Teddy who I met in my office. Teddy had just returned after serving as a commander in Afghanistan.  Like many returning veterans, he suffered from PTSD and TBI.

Here are some actual quotes from my first sessions with Teddy:

“ I’m a mess and on edge about everything these days…. “

“ I feel paralyzed and I can’t do anything….”
“I wish I had lost my legs in the war instead of a TBI.  Then, I would get more respect from people and wouldn’t be so ashamed…”

“ I think constantly about killing myself and ending this misery….”

I see Teddy every week when he comes to my office. While he has some better days, he is still very depressed and suicidal.  I don’t feel like I’ve helped him very much.  Deep inside I wonder whether a four legged creature with a wagging tail would do a much better job?

3 thoughts on “Four legged creatures with waggly tails can save lives:

  1. Great Post, Dr. Spitz, our dog Pepper has changed our lives. I’m thinking that whenever possible, it’s a great thing.

  2. I’m happy Teddy is reaching out for help. Even when visiting a therapist weekly and it doesn’t seem like progress is happening it is! Just the fact that Teddy gets out once a week and has someone to listen and talk with inspires me to know there is help and improvement happens even when it’s not measurable.

    A service dog will help in ways that others can’t! They bring joy, laughter, and purpose back in one’s life. Dogs help everyone in the household, all the time. The constant companionship and unconditional love: when life is dreary, when no one (even oneself) accepts the unseen, when expectations are not within reach, when only the simple things in life matter … a dog makes all the difference!

    My heart goes out to Teddy and I hope this helps. There is HOPE! We need Teddy to help teach about TBI and life in general, but let’s all help him first in whatever simple way we can. Take care and stay safe.

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