Service Dogs Resolve Issues
with P.T.S.D., Anxiety, and Depression
“I have struggled with PTSD, anxiety and depression for years. July 2015 I learned about PTSD service dogs and started doing my research. What I found gave me so much hope for having a “normal” future. I spent a few months gathering information, interviewing/talking with programs to see if I could get a dog. In September we found Dog Wish Many conversations later I was told that in 6 months Benson would be fully trained, just for me, and my needs. In January I got my plane. The wait has had its ups and MANY downs….many times I thought even a service dog couldn’t help me through it……but in my heart I knew the light at the end of the tunnel (Benson)was worth the struggle.
March 15, 2016 I flew to California and I met Benson for the first time. Over the next few days we did training and bonding. Today, March 22, 2016, we are leaving California, heading home to Chicago to continue on our journey. Bob, Kerry, and the rest of the Dog Wish staff, you have changed my life forever.
- I have not had a night terror since I got him, he wakes me up before I have one and won’t let me sleep until he knows it’s safe.
- I can go into the public without having to have another person by my side….he protects me and makes me feel safe.
In the last week I have done things that I never thought I would ever do again, huge crowds walking Hollywood Blvd in LA, sitting in an airport alone and not even worrying, being able to say “I’m going to run out quickly…I’ll be back”.
When I lay down at night to go to sleep I’m not overwhelmed with anxiety, restlessness, insomnia….I feel him laying next to me and I’m able to fall asleep quickly (at a reasonable hour….not 4am). Benson has put a smile back on my face and joy in my heart again. I’m excited to see where life takes me…Benson by my side.”
Two weeks ago Shannon got a full time job, and is now working for the first time in years. Her dog Benson has become the “mascot” for the business she is working for and they love him! I am so proud of Shannon, she’s just great!
The reason Dog Wish has been so highly successful with our Anxiety dogs is that unlike others who work from the outside in, using Pharmaceuticals to mask the effects of these disorders, we work from the inside out, using our dogs to attack and eradicate the causes of the disabling disability. Give us four days with our dog, and we’ll give you back your life!
According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, “Each year suicide claims approximately 30,000 lives in America, which makes it responsible for slightly more than 1 percent of deaths in the United States.”
According to the American Center for Suicide Prevention, in 2011 (the most available data), 39,518 suicides were reported. In 2011, someone died by suicide every 13.3 minutes. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.
According to the Veteran’s Administration, each day in America, 11 veterans with P.T.S.D. take their lives.
Claire Mokrysz, a PhD student in the field of Mental Health at the University College London. Claire holds degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Neuropsychology. She has a broad interest in field of mental health. Claire recently posted her results from a study on suicide in 2013. She ran 42 studies which included analyzing and reporting on people who committed suicide due to Anxiety related mental states of consciousness. She had a total of 309,974 people, roughly 1689 people in each case. She found that, “Up to 75 percent of all people with depression, schizophrenia or other mental illnesses who attempt or complete suicide also are diagnosed with one or more of the Anxiety Disorders.”
Recently the USA Veterans Administration, ignoring that 21 Veterans are taking their lives every day, dropped their P.T.S.D. Service Dog program. Dog Wish has partnered with United Veterans. to provide Psychiatric Service Dogs for Vets throughout America.
We consider Anxiety to be a major social concern. 1 out of 20 people in our society are disabled with Anxiety and have altered their lives and lifestyles trying to compensate for the pain they are in. 1 out of 5 of these people are so overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. They usually end up taking several different kinds of prescriptions to help them deal with the issues in their lives.
Dog Wish Offers a Superior Alternative
To these people, a Dog Wish Service Dog can be a necessity because:
- Our Service Dogs are trained to counter-balance the manic behaviors produced by the brains hypothalamus. The very presence of one of our dogs can stop the brain from producing one of these unwanted experiences.
2. Because of the way we train and enhance our dogs, sometimes the very presence of our dogs CAN give YOU the ability to relax, to stop feeling stressed, anxious, and help provide you an emotional balance that you have never had before
3. Beyond emotional support, our Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained to detect alert, and respond to your needs. The dogs perform specific tasks helping their handlers to rise above their mental and emotional disabilities. Your dog will Allow you to think more clearly, to act free from stress, anxiety, resolving YOUR inner pain.
4. Through our dogs, we help people to let go of mental/emotional dilemmas and to learn to control how their brain’s function. Within a short matter of time, with the empowerment and functioning enabling presence of their Service Dog, my clients are taking their lives back.
As a result of our methods, the Dog Wish Service Dog program for anxiety and PTSD, has been able to help hundreds of people reclaim their lives.
It Works! The following are stories are of our dogs and their handler’s stories. These stories demonstrate how our program works.
At one time Den’e Payan was a High School Principal, and a District Supervisor, and due to a very horrible marriage, she developed PTSD, and fell apart. She lived like that for 15 years. Noting helped, and nothing worked.
“I lived my life for several years afraid that my brother was going to have me committed! I knew I would never survive being committed for Anxiety, PTSD, and Dementia. I have always been a loner, and having me committed might have seemed like it would be the right thing and easy enough on me, but it was NOT a solution, in my eyes. To hide me away in a room, away from everything, was not working for me!!!
I have been diagnosed with…
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Severe Social Anxiety Disorder
Hearing things that are not there
I needed to pull myself together and do something to change my life!!! I thought a service dog might help me and it was kind of my last hope to be able to live somewhat of a normal life, time was running out for me! I began to research service dogs to find out if there was anything even like what I needed. After some research and talking to people, I found Dog Wish, I read everything I could find and finally contacted them to see if they could train a dog that could actually help me to live a semi normal life.
Bob Taylor at Dog Wish and I have numerous conversations, and after everything we talked about, and learning more about how he trains his dogs. He said that they could train a dog for me that could help me with what I needed. I just knew Dog Wish was the right place to get my service dog if I was going to try and change my future. Dog Wish began training a dog to be mine. Later we set a date of April 6th for me to go to Dog Wish, to meet Cassie (my service dog) and begin my training with her.
The closer it got to April 6th, the more nervous I got. I NEVER leave my house to go anywhere alone. I need someone there with me all the time, I can’t be around or near strangers or else I freak out really bad. I have hyperventilated, I have passed out, it’s just not good for me to be alone because I think too much about what is going on around me and that is when I start freaking out. If I have someone with me, they can distract me and keep my mind on other things, which is good for me.
As the days got closer and closer, I knew I could not make the trip alone, so I had to buy last minute tickets for someone (Samantha) to go to Dog Wish with me. April 5th arrives, my luggage is packed and I need to leave for the airport that evening. I was a wreck, I just kept saying to myself… On the way home, I will have Cassie, it will be much easier, I can do this one last time and I have to!!!
At the airport on the way to Dog Wish, I was a mess, I walked with my head down and I just followed the lady I took with me, she lead the way. I sat down at our gate and I never moved, never looked around; I just stared at the floor thinking those same thoughts, over and over in my head… I can do this, just this one last time!
When I arrived at Dog Wish, I meet Bob, we spoke, got to know each other for a few minutes, then he had one of the trainers go and get Cassie. When Cassie came near me, she immediately knew who I was from my scent, and I instantly fell in love with her! I trained with her for four days at Dog Wish. The four most remarkable days in my life!!!
On the fourth day, we headed to the airport on our on to come home. Cassie and I walked into the airport like we owned the place! I proudly walked up, got our boarding passes, walked to the gate and I sat and talked to Cassie until it was time for us to board the plane. They boarded us first; we sat right up front where Cassie had plenty of room to lay down. We had to change planes in Phoenix, AZ, and I had absolutely no problems around all those people! I felt the same when we arrived in Austin and got off our plane and drive home. I walked through the airport like a normal person! It was a great trip home.
It’s been about month now since I met my Dog Wish service dog, Cassie. She knows exactly what to do to make things better for me! No one ever gets too close, without her blocking me. When I need to go grocery shopping, I don’t have to call every family member I have to find someone free, able and that is willing to go with me. I have not sat at home a single day I have had off. Cassie and I are visiting places, going for drives, taking walks, we go out to eat, window shopping… I don’t need to call anyone to go with me, Cassie and I just get dressed and go on our own!!! We even TALKED to people, people I don’t know, total strangers!
Cassie and I just get up and out the door we go, jump in the SUV and off to the store, just me and my Cassie! When I want to go out to eat (which I never got to do before) Cassie and I just go! When I just want to get out of the house, sometimes just for a ride, sometimes to the park, to the lake or whatever we decide to do. I never been window shopping so much in all my life, lol Why? Because together, WE CAN!
There were some things I expected her to do for me, and she does all of those things, but what is really amazing about my Dog Wish service dog is that she does so much more than I expected! I had no idea I would ever be able to go anywhere, and not even notice people around me. I invited Samantha to go with us out to eat a few days ago. She was sitting across from me, Cassie was by my side as usual. I was talking to Samantha, and I noticed she had this weird look in her eyes. I asked her if she was ok. Her reply was, yes, but are you ok? I said yes, why? She said there was just a guy behind you, and you did not even turn around or get up and walk away. Cassie even got up and went behind you and you didn’t even move. I thought about it for a few seconds, and a tear rolled down my face as I said, I didn’t even notice. Just knowing Cassie is there with me, relieves so much stress from me! I truly never even noticed anyone around me in a busy restaurant on a Friday night! It may not sound like much to someone else, but for me, that is a significant change in my life! Cassie is so much more than I expected and we are growing closer to one another by the day!
I feel like a 100% changed and happy person!!! I feel like so many of my dreams have come true!!! I also feel that many more of my dreams are now possible with Cassie by my side!!!
Thank you to everyone at Dog Wish for changing my life!!!!
Love you guys and miss you daily!
Dené Payan and Cassie! 5-9-2016
Den’e has since decided to go through our school for trainers, and become a Dog Wish Service Dog Trainer!
MATT & BOWSER
When we meet Matt, he hadn’t left his home alone in over 12 years. His trips outside the home were become more and more infrequent, and each trip left him more and more traumatized. His PTSD was progressing more each week, feeding on his inability to fight it. He would sleep in late, sit alone frustrated, and depressed blaming himself for not being able to shake the feelings that had and were holding him in bondage for the past 15 years. After several Psychologists, therapists, a host of new medication programs, and every type of therapy known to man, he believed his life hopeless.
A Dog Wish, Service Dog was his last and final attempt to save his life.
He arrived at the facility exhausted and scared. After a quick greeting, I walked him out to meet his dog, Bowser.
Matt’s Service Dog was a very peculiar dog that didn’t really enjoy meeting strangers. He would bark at people he felt negative energy from. He was strong, focused, and opinionated. He was exactly what Matt requested and needed.
Matt was somewhat scared about how this unknown dog might react to him. I explained to him, we had been tracking Bowser for the past three months using the scented items Matt had given us. I also told him, Bowser had learned to work with the trainers but Bowser knew they weren’t his owner. I also told him to relax, we had done everything we could do to prepare this dog for him and he loves you.
I opened the kennel door and Bowser, a beautiful black lab mix, walked out and smelled the air. He recognized Matt immediately and went right up to him. Matt sat down in the dirt and started patting Bowser, with tears running down his cheeks.
Over the next week, my staff and I watched Matt and Bowser. It was very evident that all the hard work, all the training had worked. Matt and Bowser were a working service team.
The first time we went to a store, I didn’t know if we were going to make it out. Matt was disoriented, sweating profusely, and almost passed out. He was shaking so badly he could hardly move, and stuttered when someone spoke to him. It took four hours for him to relax. Finally, he told me, “Every time I felt anxiety, my Service Dog pushed himself into my leg, and would lick my hand.”
I nodded with a smile and replied, “That’s what he is supposed to do.”
We went to dinner at a large Mexican restaurant. While at dinner, the waiter and a man at the table next to us, started to play fight. They were right next to Matt. Bowser, fearing for owner, stood up and barked. He scared the bejabbers out of the waiter, who took off, and ran down the aisle. We had to explain to the manager that this particular dog was trained to protect his owner without hurting anyone. The waiter came back and was able to pet the dog, but something changed inside Matt. He was different; you could see it visibly on his face.
“Matt, are you ok?” I asked. Matt looked at me and began to smile, “For the first time in 15 years, I’m great!” He stated with flashing eyes.
Bowser had been trained to help Matt feel safe, to relax, to lose his anxiety, and he had just done that. Matt took him for walks around the hotel at night from then on, and one night the dog stopped a criminal. The man was hiding in bushes waiting to rob someone. Though, Bowser barked at the man, he never tried to hurt him. Bowser stayed right by Matt’s side, ready to do his job.
Four days later we went back to the busy store and walked around. We stayed there for over an hour. We spoke with everyone we encountered and Matt had no reaction at all. He didn’t feel the overwhelming anxiety. He didn’t break out in a cold sweat, or stuttered when someone spoke to him. He felt great. Mission accomplished!
Matt went home, and started calling me daily. His wife, kids, and parents fell in love with Bowser and vice versa. He now drives all over town, goes to the store by himself whenever he wants to, and was ready to go back to work fulltime.
Recently Mathew wrote: “Dog Wish, thank you so much for my wonderful Service Dog, Bowser. It has been a little over a year since you have blessed my life with his positive changing presence. My health has improved so much that I am in longer need of some medications, and weekly visits by a home health care nurse. We have become a source of information for people wondering about Service Dogs, what they do, how they work, and the laws pertaining to them. He has not only helped me but I know he will help others by being an ambassador service dog for my future clients when I finally become a psychologist.”
This is what you call a real transformation, one of over FIFTY in the last year for Dog Wish.
A good Psychiatric Service Dog can walk into a room, smell the smells, feel the energies, detect the problems, alert, and respond without a single command.
Rick & Sam
Recently, a Dog Wish Service Dog recipient told me after only one week with his dog.
“I can’t believe how I am being affected. I’m sleeping, don’t feel anxiety or irritability, and I feel like my head is clear. Usually I walk around in a fog I can’t get rid of it, but since my dog, it’s like somebody rinsed out my brain. I used to feel a gripping fear, all the time, but not now. When I went to the store I would hold onto a grocery cart, and walk right next to my wife. The further we went, the worse the oppressing anxiety became, until I just could not stand it anymore, and we would leave. Now, I don’t need the cart, I don’t need her, I can walk all over by myself, and I feel great! I realize you told me how this was going to work before, but I until I experienced it for myself I couldn’t understand or believe it. Now I know what you meant.”
After 2 weeks with his dog, he replied to friends on Facebook:
“Phyllis June (wife), Sam (dog), and I were in a store yesterday. The normal ‘hold on to the cart’ like I do, no longer happens. I have Sam by my side and he does exactly what he is supposed to do – relieve stress and anxiety. I can’t explain it, only to say it’s gone. He walks so close to me his shoulder rubs my leg. It’s his way of saying, “I’m here, and it’s all going to be ok”. The most amazing thing is when we leave, I tell him to find car, there are certain words we use, but the thing is he tracks right to our car, or jeep. Never fails.
22 months later this family still can’t believe what this Dog Wish Service Dog is doing for them.
I have encountered several people who are “plagued” with anxiety caused by their attempts to live in environments that actively abuse them. Sensitive people can become victims to energies that are attracted to them. Environments that can stimulate their minds to produce feelings that cause them fear, frustration, and anger. All of which are dangerous and debilitating to them. 1 out of 4 people in our world are fighting for control of their brains, and need help.
Sima and Bubby
Sima is a charming, beautiful young woman, who flew to us in a last ditch effort to get help with her devastating PTSD. She had been through 3 different professional Institutions where the professionals tried to help her with little to no success. She had seen numerous Psychiatrists and Therapists, been through all the procedures, tried desperately to do everything possible to deal with her problems, but nothing worked. She was paralyzed with nightmare experiences every single night, leaving her “scared to death”, curled up in the corner of her bedroom, crying. She felt such pain that she had tried overdosing. Nobody could help her, and her life was a living HELL.
She flew out to Dog Wish, out of her mind in terror and pain. She sat huddled, not speaking, and she won’t look at anyone. She just stared into space. I watched her for a couple of minutes before I asked a staff member to bring in Buddy, a 16 month old male, red and black medium sized German Shepherd. We had finished training him but we hadn’t found the right home for him yet.
We work with synergistic energies, and as Buddy approached, his energy and Sima’s energy matched, exactly. Sima looked up as Buddy came into the room and without a word he laid his head in her lap. He licked her face, and climbed up into her lap. After a few minutes, I gave her the leash and told her to take him for a walk. She did.
Sima stayed at my house during her training, because I wanted to make sure she would be okay. In fact, since Buddy, she hasn’t had another traumatic episode of nightmarish horror. Sima trained with us, like Mathew did, and went home. Two days later she went to a wedding, then to a graduation, and then a family reunion. That was eight months ago, and Sima has not regressed. Her doctors have cut her meds to their lowest levels. Sima is reclaiming her life. Buddy has made all the difference in her world.
Sima tells her story.
“Before Buddy every single day was a struggle. Every morning I would fight with myself over whether it was worth it to get out of bed, and even the days I did get up were spent counting down the hours until I could crawl back in. My PTSD had complete control of my life. I would dread sleep because sleep meant nightmares and nightmares meant ripped sheets, waking up with scratches and bruises, and an approximate average of 3 hours of sleep a night. Leaving the house never felt safe so I slowly isolated myself from everyone and everything. I jumped at loud noises or a simple tap on the shoulder from behind. I became agoraphobic and stopped going to the most basic places because my anxiety would debilitate me. Even the simplest tasks required all the energy I had.
I was prescribed more medications than I can count and tried almost every different kind of therapy recommended for PTSD. Some helped minutely, some helped temporarily, and some just made the urge to be curled up in a ball in my apartment intensify.
Then I called Bob Taylor at Dog Wish about getting a service dog. Bob listened to everything I had to say. He listened to my symptoms, the therapies I had already tried, and about my hope for many years for a “magic fix”. Bob sent me lots of information about service dogs, especially service dogs for PTSD. He told me he was going to help me in any way he could, and he really did follow through with everything. He didn’t make me wait weeks or months to come out to Dog Wish, he just simply said “come on out”, so I went.
I was terrified flying out to California. Even though I trusted Bob I was afraid this was just going to be another failed attempt to “fix” my PTSD. I was scared I wouldn’t find a dog, or that they would all be able to tell that having a dog come everywhere with me for the next substantial portion of my life wasn’t exactly something I was thrilled about. I wanted my life back so badly but the thought of something else failing was horrifying. I got to Dog Wish and I was shaking stepping out of the rental car but was very quickly enveloped in a huge hug from Bob who could so easily see how nervous/anxious/terrified I was. And then he started bringing out dogs to meet me. I had requested a female so first he brought out a female shepherd; she was beautiful but had zero interest in me. Then Bob asked if I was willing to try a male because he had an idea for a dog for me. I agreed and out came Buddy. He sniffed at me for about 3 seconds before resting his head on my lap and looking up at me with his beautiful golden eyes. And it was magic. I was hesitant to say that Buddy was the dog I was going to take home without working with him, but I knew it, and Bob knew it, and Buddy knew it too.
I worked with Bob, the other handlers, and the veterinarian on staff. Everybody was patient and kind and never rushed me. It was overwhelming but at the same time all I wanted to do was learn more, train more, and spend more time with Buddy. Bob took the pair of us everywhere. We went to Costco, the supermarket, the bank, restaurants; places I had been avoiding for years. Buddy could sense my anxiety and walked right alongside me, brushing my leg with his body, telling me I didn’t have to be afraid, he was right there. I slept through the night for the first time in many months. Buddy slept next to me, waking me by licking my hand or face when I started getting anxious. I was nightmare free for the first time in years. It had been so long that I had forgotten what a good night’s rest can do for a person. It was a wonderful few days, learning, training, and stepping way out of what had become my very small comfort zone.
A few days later it was time to bring Buddy home. Again I was nervous. What if Buddy only cooperated when the other handlers were around? What if he didn’t behave for me in the airport? What if the airline gave me issues about bringing Buddy home on the plane? Bob reassured me endlessly that we’d have no problem and he was absolutely right. Buddy was excellent in the airport and on both connecting flights back to New York. We got home and Buddy continued to be everything I had hoped he would be.
We started slow but it didn’t take long before I enjoyed leaving the house again. I started working more hours from the office and less from home. I started going out with my friends again. My therapist was amazed at how Buddy had truly given me my life back. My father apologized to me that he hadn’t known about service dogs for PTSD earlier because all of the sudden I was myself again. Not the girl who was terrified to leave her apartment but the old me who wanted to live life, do the things I love, and be happy.
Life with Buddy was a big adjustment from my life before but every part of it was worth it. Pretty soon I had moved out of my old apartment in a neighborhood I didn’t want to be in and had moved down to the beach to an apartment with a backyard for Buddy and just steps away from the beach (which I thought was for me until I found out how much Buddy loved it too). Now it’s our daily ritual to either walk on the beach or boardwalk before heading to work.
Pretty soon the anxiety that used to be constantly building was simply gone. The supermarket wasn’t scary anymore because I knew Buddy was always going to be coming with me. Running errands became easy. We spend time with my family, we spend time with my friends, and everybody just loves him. I’ve taken him to work, the gym, restaurants, bars, family celebrations. We’ve gone hiking, to concerts, to movies, to museums. Endless lists of places I wouldn’t have gone without him and now get to experience again without triggering a panic attack.
I may still have PTSD, and I may still have occasional bad days, but every day with Buddy is another adventure. We have hiccups every now and again but for the most part I just keep learning more and more from him. I will never be able to thank anyone properly for the wonderful ways Buddy has changed my life; Bob and everyone at Dog Wish for training Buddy to be MY dog, my parents for the greatest gift I will ever get in my entire life, my siblings and extended family for accepting Buddy into their lives as well, my friends for not only not caring about Buddy tagging along but truly being enthusiastic about it, the new neighbors who reached out and ran down to check if I was okay when Buddy started barking at a cat outside (“I thought something was wrong because he NEVER barks!!”).
Buddy is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. He was and is my “magic fix”. Buddy gave me my life back. He rescues me from the thoughts and flashbacks in my head. He saves me from the anxious trains of thoughts that used to be endlessly racing through my mind. He protects me when I feel vulnerable; he stays by my side when I feel strong. I couldn’t have asked for more, I’ve already gotten more than I imagined was possible.
Buddy has given me back the life I love. Going to Dog Wish was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that people suffering from anxiety and PTSD, can learn to control and refocus their brains with a Service Dog. By working with the dog they can control the behaviors that cause them anxiety. They can learn rejoin the world around them.
DOG WISH WOULD LIKE TO HELP YOU.
If you have comments, questions, and personal concerns, call:
Bob Taylor, at 760-662-3767, or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org