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    Top Dogs: September is National Service Dog Month

    Top Dogs: September is National Service Dog Month

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman | Jax, a German shepherd who serves as a therapy dog for the 163d Attack Wing at March...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    163d Attack Wing

    MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. (Sept. 1, 2017) – For nearly a hundred years, canines have served in therapy and service roles to the U.S. military, adding to existing roles as messengers, sentry dogs, and detection.

    For National Service Dog month, we look back at the milestones in the evolution of these roles.


    The U.S. military promotes the use of dogs as a therapeutic intervention with psychiatric patients in 1919 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington.


    The first documented therapeutic use of animals in the U.S. takes place during World War II at an Army Air Corps convalescent hospital in Pawling, New York. The hospital functions more as a rest home than a medical facility for patients suffering from “operational fatigue,” which is probably called posttraumatic stress disorder today.


    Private practice therapist Boris Levinson brings dogs into therapy sessions in the late 1960’s, and makes the first major push for true “therapy dogs”. His practices are questioned intensely, but eventually lead to a more receptive use of dogs in therapy.

    The interaction between humans and animals, primarily dogs, is demonstrated to promote relaxation, calm, and optimism in critical care medical settings, and reduce anxiety and fear in psychiatric patients.


    America’s VetDogs is established by the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. The organization provides an overall assistance dog program to enhance and increase services for disabled Veterans of all eras.


    A new role is envisioned for therapy dogs after it is observed how wounded service members interact with George, a therapy dog at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


    Occupational therapy assistants with the 85th Medical Detachment are temporarily assigned to VetDogs headquarters to train with military working dogs, Sgt. 1st Class Boe and Sgt. 1st Class Budge, who are deployed to Iraq.


    Members of the 528th Medical Detachment travel to VetDogs headquarters to learn dog-handling techniques before they deploy to Iraq and assume responsibilities for Boe and Budge.


    Sgts. 1st Class Zeke and Albert are trained to replace Boe and Budge. Vet-Dogs instructors travel to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to facilitate training with members of the 212th Medical Detachment.

    Boe and Budge return and spend several months at VetDogs headquarters while they are reevaluated and retrained for service at Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

    Another working dog, Master Sgt. Maverick is trained and joins them for a traumatic brain injury clinic, and inpatient and outpatient behavioral health. America’s VetDogs receives the Secretary of the Army’s Public Service Award.


    Sgts. 1st Class Apollo and Timmy are trained in Landstuhl, Germany, to accompany the 254th Medical Detachment to Afghanistan. The dogs are stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

    Sgt. 1st Class Budge is diagnosed with lymphoma, one of the most common cancers in dogs, and he passes away. Budge is remembered during a memorial service at Fort Gordon, Georgia.


    Zeke and Albert return home and are reevaluated and retrained for their next duty assignment.

    Albert joins Maverick at Eisenhower.

    Zeke redeploys with the 113th Medical Detachment to Afghanistan.

    Sgt. 1st Class Boe is reassigned to Fort Benning, Georgia, while Sgts. 1st Class Butch and Zack train at Joint Base Fort Lewis-McChord with the 98th Medical Detachment for deployment to Iraq as part of Operation New Dawn.


    Jax, a German Shepherd who formerly trained as a police K-9, joins the 163d Attack Wing as a therapy dog. Jax makes visits to Airmen in their workcenters and serves as a bridge between Director of Psychological Health David Cunningham and unit members.


    Zoe, a Labrador retriever mix, officially enlists into the New York Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing. Zoe is donated to the unit by Heroes in Transition, Inc.

    The Alaska Air National Guard’s 212th Rescue Squadron adds TOML, a year old Labrador retriever, to their ranks. TOML, who is named for the pararescue motto “That Others May Live,” performs a variety of tasks in support of the unit’s mission and its personnel.


    Registered therapy dog Ted, a German Shepherd-Coonhound mix, visits the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, to interact with children before the unit’s deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

    The Whiteman Air Force Base Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office welcomes Apollo, a 3-year-old Labrador mix therapy dog, to its team. Apollo assists people during moments of personal crisis.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is contributed by David Cunningham, 163d Attack Wing Director of Psychological Health



    Date Taken: 09.01.2017
    Date Posted: 01.18.2018 19:03
    Story ID: 262500

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