Briefly, about The New Barker...
In our 13th year of publishing original stories with award-winning photography.
Reaching 30,000+ dog lovers in print each quarter.
Each cover features an original work of art by a different Florida artist.
Over the last 11 years, we have donated $200,000 in cash, product, media space and money to animal welfare organizations across Florida.
30 days after the magazine is distributed and mailed, the digital version is uploaded.
The New Barker: Where to stay, play, dine, and just have fun in Florida with your dogs.
“You have no idea what a best friend is until you’ve worked together.” A girl and her rescue dog.
by Anna Cooke
Well yes, sometimes a rescue dog truly does need rescuing. Maggie had spent the first seven months of her life inside an Alabama animal shelter. When volunteers from Ewenity Farm Herding Dog Haven offered to take her, life was looking up for her. Understandably, Maggie would need someone with patience to help bring out the best dog she had inside of her.
Stephanie Cox knew she had her work cut out for her when she adopted Maggie. As with most challenges, we never know the level of difficulty we’re facing until we’re deep into it.
Maggie was afraid of life; of everything around her. “She was afraid of cars, even parked cars,” said Stephanie. “And she definitely didn’t like car rides.” This was just one of many challenges the two faced, early in their relationship. Maggie did not want to let Stephanie out of her site, and a car ride was necessary for their weekly obedience classes. They managed, and after completing basic obedience, Stephanie decided to work with Maggie in agility.
“She is not a couch potato kind of dog. I felt she would do well with an activity like agility,” said Stephanie, whose other dog, Diamond, excels in the sport. She set up a course in her backyard, and Maggie loved it. However, classes at the dog training club proved to be another challenge. Maggie panicked in the agility ring, and then froze every time.
“I cried many times during agility class,” said Stephanie. “There were moments, driving home together, when I wondered if I was doing the right thing for Maggie. I was worried that she might feel I was punishing her.”
Support from other members of the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club continued to gently encourage Stephanie and Maggie. “We just worked on her confidence. And my confidence as well,” Stephanie said. “I had to learn not to stress over anything Maggie was doing; to understand the process and the journey we were both on.”
When we met with Maggie and Stephanie last year, Maggie had already won her Novice title in four trials. “I knew she always had it in her,” said Stephanie.
In an agility trial, a dog demonstrates her agile nature and versatility by following cues from her handler through a timed obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and other objects. “The bonding experience is incredible,” said Stephanie. “You have no idea what a best friend is until you’ve worked together.”
Stephanie reiterates that there are no lost causes. Whenever her two young children are faced with a challenge, Stephanie reminds them, “Remember Maggie?”
Every dog requires a certain amount of time to find her way in life and fit into the dynamics of her new environment.
“Maggie always had grit. I just had to help her find it.”
Here are some fun ideas for the dog lover on your Christmas shopping list. And, don’t forget to include your local shelter on your shopping list. Consider making a donation to the shelter on behalf of special someone. Or how about a gift card to a dog-friendly restaurant? Check out out The New Barker Dog Dining Guide. Gift certificates for grooming are always a welcome surprise for the dog lover. And a one-year subscription to The New Barker dog magazine. We’ll send a note card letting the recipient know their gift from you is on its way. We have a BOGO offer going on for a limited time.
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The annual Festival of Reading took place over a recent weekend on the St. Petersburg campus of USF. A pre-arranged 15 minute interview with author and journalist Dave Barry had been set up by his publicist, Larry Hughes, and the Festival’s Author Coordinator Lori Gaudreau. Our meeting was scheduled 45 minutes before Dave was to take the stage in front of what would be a standing room only crowd.
Having read Lessons From Lucy to review in The New Barker, my one takeaway from Dave’s book about his dog was this quote from him, which appears in the book: “I have a black belt in instantly hating strangers.”
I sort of get that. While I don’t instantly hate strangers, if I were to meet Dave and his dog Lucy at the same time, it’s a pretty good bet my arms would end up around Lucy, not Dave.
Photographer Jacqui Silla and I arrived a solid 45 minutes before Dave was set to meet us in the green room, which is actually called the Coral Room, on the second floor of the University Student Center. We rearranged the seating, looking for the best possible lighting for the photos. I reviewed my notes and Jacqui had to keep reminding me to breathe.
Outside the room, a crowd was already beginning to wind around the lobby in front of the auditorium like a haphazard queue at a tourist attraction. At 12:05, 10 minutes before Dave was to arrive for our scheduled interview, Jacqui suggested I make a call to Lori to make sure everything was okay.
There’s been a slight change in plans, said Lori, and would I mind coming to where they were? She had Dave right next to her, she said, in the writer’s lounge. “We’re just across the street from where you are,” she said.
Just across the street on a college campus from the second floor of another building was not as easy as it sounded. I had just stopped profusely perspiring from our trek here, and the jitters were still trying to take over my stomach. Blisters had already formed on my toes from the high-heel boots I decided to put on that morning after not having worn them for more than a year. What was I thinking?
We would never make it on time. I imagined us arriving at the writer’s lounge only to see Dave being whisked away for his talk back at the University Student Center, where Jacqui and I already were. Seriously, the scenario played out in my head like the screen from a Super Mario Brothers game.
Lori patiently listened as I told her that a photographer was with me and we were all set up in the location we were originally instructed to meet: the green room, which is actually the Coral Room, and, by the way, there is a large crowd for Dave already forming outside the auditorium. Lori answered, “Oh. Most of the journalists just come by themselves, not with a photographer.”
“Wow,” I thought to myself, “She just referred to me as a journalist.” My second thought was, well maybe most journalists don’t find themselves in a position where they’re about to meet and interview one of their favorite writers for the first and, very likely, last time.
Dave Barry wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the Miami Herald for 22 years. He’s won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary (1988) and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism (2005). In addition to his book, Lessons from Lucy, he’s written 50+ other books, including I’m Mature When I’m Dead and Boogers are My Beat: More Lies, But Some Actual Journalism. Yes, literary masterpieces. He is also part of the Greatest Rock Band Ever (of authors).
Besides, I politely argued into my phone, isn’t Dave scheduled to give his talk in the building we’re in now? “Yes,” Lori answered. “But, before that he has another meeting scheduled back in this building, where we are now.”
Poor Dave. He was being tossed around the St. Petersburg campus of USF like a freshly-opened bag of Cheetos in a college dorm room.
Quickly, I thought: If I make Dave trek across campus to meet me, I’ll have made a person, who is already loathsome of strangers, hate me even more for having made him run across campus – twice. He probably won’t even look at me much less talk to me. This will be the worst interview ever.
Then I heard Lori say into my phone: I’ll bring him to you. That did not make me feel any better.
Breathe, Jacqui reminded me again. “Here, drink some water. You’re gonna do great.”
Yes, I thought to myself. This will all be over very fast. As he walks into the room, Dave will zap me instantly with his death glare, and that will be that. He’ll go on stage to an adoring, unknowing crowd, while I lay crumpled under a heap of clothing, only my high-heel boots peeking out. Much like that scene from the Wizard of Oz when the house drops on the Wicked Witch of the West.
Dave arrived, just a bit disoriented from his back and forth traversing, not a hair out of place. As he walked through the door, he straightened out his blue blazer and began to compose himself for what was to come next. He was gracious, adorable, as nervous as I was, and genuine.
Probably my most disingenuous question was to ask how Lucy, his dog, was doing. I thought it would be the best way to quickly ease into what would be a fast-paced interview.
“Lucy is doing great,” said Dave, his eyes darting around the room. “First of all, we have to agree how much better dogs are than people,” he went on. Now, he was beginning to make a little eye contact. “They’re always looking up at you with those eyes. No matter what, they’re happy to see you; to be with you. And, that’s just great, especially with the way things are now in the world.”
On being a grandparent, Dave said, “It’s great. We just had a new one. Five months old. First of all, they’re not my kids. They’re grandkids. So, I can love them, then hand them back to their parents. I look at my son and daughter-in-law and wonder how they do it. How do they keep up mentally and physically with these kids? Lucy loves the grandkids. She thinks it’s her job to protect them.”
On fame. “Oh, Lucy is more famous than me now. When we go for walks or go anywhere in public together, people always remark, ‘Look, there’s Lucy.’ They don’t even notice me anymore. Which is fine.”
On helping shelter dogs during his book tours to promote Lessons From Lucy. “I’ve been able to do quite a bit of fundraising for rescue groups and shelters in Miami, thanks to my good friend [Miami philanthropist, pet rescue and child advocate] Yolanda Berkowitz. I don’t take Lucy to these events, though, because I really want the spotlight to be on the rescue dogs.”
Lessons From Lucy devotes seven chapters to showcase seven lessons Dave (who thinks he’s an old guy) has learned from Lucy, the aging family dog. As is Dave’s often self-deprecating, sarcastic writing style, the lessons are humorously presented. Every dog lover will recognize themselves and appreciate the lessons.
After Dave completed the book’s manuscript and sent it off to his editor, his daughter Sophie was getting ready to start her freshman year at Duke. “We had plans. Life was orderly. Life was good,” wrote Dave. “On Saturday, August 18, two days before we were going to take Sophie to Duke, she woke up paralyzed from the waist down.”
In the final chapter “One Last Lesson,” added after the book was completed, Dave drops the humor, but not his honesty, to recount every parent’s worst nightmare. He shares one more lesson with the reader. It’s one we already know, but need reminding of every day: Gratitude and appreciating the goodness in our lives.
It’s been a little over a year since Sophie’s illness, and she is thriving at Duke. “We couldn’t be happier,” said Dave.
We touched on the book’s last chapter, and I wondered aloud, “Now that everything in life is back in order, and life is good, it’s easy to fall back into old routines. Do you remember to practice gratitude?”
“I think about that every minute of every single day,” Dave said, looking right at me.
Shelter Silence How was it that 100 hundred shelter dogs at Seminole County Animal Shelter stopped barking, and laid down calmly as I slowly walked down the aisle between the kennels? My body language was non-threatening and neutral. My energy, using my training in QiGong and Reiki, was directed toward a calm and favorable outcome to them, and lastly, my mental thoughts were those of calmness. The dogs read all this. Watch as Jo Maldonado, using body language and thoughts, calms stressed shelter dogs in a few minutes at Seminole County Animal Shelter.
Body Language Body language is the most primitive and significant form of human communication. It came into existence even before our ancestors developed speech and language. The study of body language is called kinesics and has been studied since the early Greeks. Research studies suggest that your body is the reflection of your mind, and the way you control your body will have an impact on your mental processes. It is a mutual process. Your body posture adapts to your thoughts, so if for example, you are depressed your shoulders may slump, your head may drop, you may shift weight onto one leg vs. standing equal weight on both legs If you’re nervous, your gestures may be more jerky, not smooth and controlled; you may pace.
Power Poses My studies with body language originated with studying Professor Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, known world-wide for her Power Pose study. Her studies showed that we send messages of leadership to people through “Power Poses.” Each posture or pose, gives off a certain and very different energy signal. Each body position carries with it an emotion which is triggered by our thoughts and the memories our cells have stored within our body. There are power poses and submissive poses, each respectively affecting the people and animals around us in a different manner.
Power Poses and Animals I went one step further after following Prof. Cuddy’s poses with humans, and applied it to animals, specifically horses and dogs. Dogs are predators, and responded in a subservient manner, recognizing the human as pack leader; horses the prey, responded in a threatened manner, in flight mode. My conclusion supports what we should already realize: use caution when approaching unfamiliar dogs. Communicate clearly what it is you want the dog to know or do. Some dogs are leaders, and others are pack followers. If we are to apply strong forceful body language upon a follower type dog, it may create adverse reactions in a now fearful dog. On the other hand, if we apply a power pose to a dog who clearly wants to be in charge, we would get a response more in our favor, and you win the pack leader role.
Body Language & Energy Animals measure their trust in you, their communication with you, and their understanding of you by the energy that you send when you are in their presence. It’s not complicated. The fascinating thing is, that we ALL send messages to other species, all the time. All beings share their energy with others. The thoughts that you have, create a vibration, a specific frequency which is then perceived by others around you. This is also why you are able to detect if someone is being genuine and authentic in the words they speak, you instinctually pick up on the thoughts and vibrations which the other person is giving off. When a person’s words and their thoughts do not match, you can perceive this through their body language. This intricate process of translation is all done subconsciously. Dogs’ proficiency in reading body language should come as no surprise since, as pack members, dogs have to communicate with each other without the benefit of a verbal language. Instead they communicate through conscious and subliminal signing or gesturing, and watch for the actions and reactions of the other individual.
Body Posture Your body posture: head carriage position, shoulders, hip stance, position of arms, behind you vs. in front of you, send the same messages to animals as they do to people, just more intensified. Each posture or pose gives off a certain and very different energy signal. Each body position carries with it an emotion which is triggered by our thoughts and the memories our cells have stored within our body.
So, how did we get all those dogs to stop barking, and relax? 1) Posture: Shoulders Back Did you know that more testosterone is emitted when your shoulders are back, vs. when they are in a slumped-over position? Dogs’ senses are keen. When you emit more testosterone in dog language you are saying that you are in charge; in a dog pack, the dog with the highest level of testosterone is in charge; shoulders slumped to the front is submissive, signaling that you don’t want to be in charge. Higher testosterone is associated with confidence, power, and higher risk tolerance. This combination is linked with effective leadership. Contracted body language (closed) is linked to feelings of lower status and worth, and is exemplified by hunched shoulders, head lowered, crossed arms and legs, and not smiling, says social psychologist Amy Cuddy.
2) Knees Locked vs. Knees Relaxed Knees should be unlocked, or in a relaxed position if standing, legs equally apart at a stance, and grounded “like a tree” is most optimal. When you lock your knees, your muscles tighten. Tight muscles are typically a response to either severe cold temperatures, excitability, heightened emotions, or unbalanced energy, and can deliver an unfavorable response to dogs. They may also be viewed as threatening. Example: a fearful person tends to tense up and stare. Dogs may tend to misread a fearful person’s behavior as a “challenge” posture, like that of a dominant dog squaring up to an opponent. This immediately puts a dog on the defensive.
3) Legs Apart Stance: A neutral pose to be assumed with equal weight distributed on each leg as you stand, as opposed to shifting your weight to one or other leg which sends a message of uncertainty. When you are standing equally, you are more in control of your dog and are sending messages of strength and confidence to your animal.
4) Head Position: Very significant in body language. A person’s head, due to a very flexible neck structure, can turn, thrust forward, withdraw, tilt sideways, forwards and backwards. All of these movements have meanings, which given some thought about other signals can be understood. The best position to work with animals is a high head position which signifies attentive listening, usually with an open or undecided mind, or lack of bias.
5) Gait: All participants were instructed to stand sideways, in front of one or two dog kennels. No gait was incorporated.
6) Facial Expressions: Neutral. No eye contact. Each participant stool parallel, sideways, not facing the dogs. Relaxed facial muscle.
7) Tone: No words were used.
8) Thoughts: All were instructed to think of the dogs in a neutral, relaxed position. Begin with slow relaxed breathing, deep sigh, then seeing the dogs in your mind’s eye sitting, then laying down. The goal was to think relaxing thoughts about the dog.
Our Emotions Are Showing Did someone ever tell you that you “wear your emotions on your sleeve?” Take that a step further. Animals are keen observers of our intentions and emotions, and can read us with an objective eye – even those movements and positions that you may not be aware of. Practice your body language as though the whole world were watching. Animals (and your dogs) will let you know if you have it right.
About the author: Jo Maldonado is an animal communicator, and has been an advisor and contributor to The New Barker since 2010. She is the founder and owner of Gryphons’ Claw The School of Practical Magic, and is department head of the Animal Communication Division. Jo is available as a lecturer, instructor and consultant for private clients and animal shelters. She may be reached via email at Jo@AnimalReader.com
There are so many events to cover, we decided to make a blog out of our favorite events. This weekend is one of the busiest of the whole year for #FloridaDogLovers. What better way to get it started than with the Key West Pet Masquerade, an event that’s been around since 1987? The Lower Keys Friends of Animals, Inc., a low cost spay/neuter non-profit, is the evening’s beneficiary.
#MiamiDogLovers, head on over to the beautiful Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden between noon and 3p for the Pup Up Halloween Pawty. There will be a Costume Chic Puppy Parade and Best Dressed Contest. Bring your yoga mat and dogs for a 30 minute DOGA class. Take a tram ride and stroll the Garden with your dogs. Grab a swag bag on the way out which will include a complimentary copy of #TheNewBarkerDogMagazine
SUNDAY: What would October be for #TampaBayDogLovers without Woofstock 2019? The annual event pulls together the rescue community to present a day of fun including dog demos, live music, dog games, #CorgiRaces, raffle prizes, a very big Doggie Costume Contest and The Ohana Dog Show. Produced by TampaPets!org—No More Homeless Pets Hillsborough County. From 11a-3p at Original Carrollwood Park, 11430 Orange Grove Dr., Tampa. Don’t miss this one.
by Anna Cooke, Editor, The New Barker Dog Magazine.
What’s the message people are conveying to Hollywood when the theatre-release film about a dog outscores the billed-as-blockbuster movies in one weekend? Earlier this year, when A Dog’s Journey, the sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, was released, audiences gave it a 95% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was up against John Wick 3 and Avengers.Those are convincing numbers. Movie goers enjoy a good love story, especially one that involves dogs.
Centered on the premise that the soul of a dog continues to be reincarnated into subsequent dogs, the film picks up just a bit in the future of where A Dog’s Purpose left off. Bailey is now living in the body of a Great Pyrenees Bernese/Mountain Dog mix. Going into the film, especially if you’ve read the series of books by W. Bruce Cameron, you know the dog dies. Actually, it’s four dogs who die in A Dog’s Journey. Knowing that, you prepare yourself, and of course, you still cry, as does the big strong guy watching the film with you.
The screenplay was co-written by Cameron with his wife Cathryn Michon, Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky. The film will be released on BluRay and DVD August 20, and The New Barker will be giving away copies. Be sure to follow The New Barker on Facebook,Twitter,Pinterest, and Instagram.
After watching the film, I had the pleasure of interviewing W. Bruce Cameron by phone. His dog Tucker was in the room with him. Our dogs Rita, Dougie and Angel were in the office with me. The dogs must’ve known the importance of the phone call. They remained silently alert.
For a writer who’s seen several books hit the small and big screen, did you like the way A Dog’s Journey turned out on film? I loved the film. The director, Gail Mancuso, had the right heart. When Cathryn and I showed up on the set, Gail stopped shooting and ran over to show us pictures of her five dogs. I knew right then, we’d picked the right director for the job.
How much time did you spend on the set? We spent quite a bit of time – maybe four weeks. Then, they flew us out to New York City to do a cameo.
Wait, you did a cameo? How did I miss that? Yep, with Cathryn and Tucker, walking through Central Park. You’ll have to go back and watch the film. The performance is award-winning (laughing).
At what point in time in production or pre-production, did you meet the actor dogs who would play Bailey/Buddy, Molly, Big Dog, and Max? Right away. And each time we were on set, all I was doing was rolling around on the ground with the dogs. The dogs were the main reason I wanted to be on-set, to be able to roll around on the ground with them.
The first two films in the series, A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Way Home, were both surrounded in controversy. Did that have an affect at all in writing A Dog’s Journey? No impact whatsoever. I cannot allow myself to be distracted by these things when writing. We live in an age where there is always going to be controversy. I must stay focused on what’s in front of me. Writing this series of books has been rewarding for me spiritually. It’s easy for me to feel good about that.
What was the one scene in the film that took your breath away? Ahh, that has less to do with dogs and more to do with people. It’s when CJ and Trent show up at the farm, after many years. It dawns on Hannah and Ethan who these two people are, standing on their porch. I’m always drawn to the theme of reunion and redemption. It’s about finding our way back to where we belong. That moment in the film is so poignant to me because it’s taken CJ a lifetime to see her grandmother. I return to the scene over and over in my mind. You can go home again.
Describe what it was like to watch the film, for the first time with an audience. I had seen the film many times before it was released. So, when I was in a theater for the first time with an audience, I spent time watching the audience more than the film. I was obsessing on how other people reacted to different scenes. I know people are going to read the book. But, when I can participate in the making of a movie, then watch a whole family react the same way at the same moment to the same scene, well that has a big impact on me. It’s an amazing experience as a writer.
As a writer, you’ve described yourself as being “a bystander to the magnificent dance. We record our witness.” What have you witnessed, over your lifetime, that inspired Bailey’s story to continue in A Dog’s Journey? When I wrote A Dog’s Purpose, I heard from so many people who told me the story gave them hope. It gave them a reason to adopt another dog. My message for the series is about moving on, and that finding the same kind of love you had, comes from having a dog in your life. There’s a continuum to a dog’s love. When we say the final goodbye, it’s important to know that the dog is most concerned with what you’re feeling at that moment. The dog wants to know that you’ll be taken care of, that you will be able to move on, and hopes to encourage you to find another dog to love and be loved.
Your next book, A Dog’s Promise, will be released this October. Are you able to say how you’ve kept the continuation of Bailey’s story fresh without revealing too much about the new book? In A Dog’s Journey, we say goodbye and watch Bailey crossing the Rainbow Bridge to meet Ethan. It occurred to me, right then, that there might be an important mission for Bailey: A boy with special needs and a family that has been torn apart. I had the idea that Bailey would return as an angel dog.
Growing up and throughout your adult life, have you had a heart dog? I will always have a dog in my life, and whatever dog I have with me, at that moment, will be my special dog. Right now, that dog is Tucker, and this is definitely his first trip with me (laughing). I have to say, though, that the first dog I ever had was as a boy. Cammie, a black Lab, was the one who had the most impact on me. Growing up with a dog, for me, meant that we influenced each other’s lives. That’s something that can never be duplicated. We’d lost Cammie after I’d gone off to college.
Over the years, I have met certain dogs, other people’s dogs, that I’ve felt some connection to, and it’s those moments, when I’ve looked into a dog’s eyes and asked, “Are you Cammie?”
During the week of July 22, the House Veterans Affairs Committee denied support of the PAWS Act of 2019, HB3103. Again. This is another blow to service members getting the PTSD treatment that some of them desperately need: a service dog. For years, K9s For Warriors, a Ponte Vedra organization, has pushed to get the PAWS (Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members) Act passed. There is published scientific research that proves service dogs work. We are losing 20 veterans a day to suicide. What are you waiting for, members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee?
K9s For Warriors CEO, Rory Diamond, said, in response to the latest news: “For the last three years we’ve been pushing PAWS because the VA refuses to acknowledge what we all know: Service Dogs are dramatically improving the lives of disabled veterans suffering from PTSD. Most importantly, these dogs are helping keep our heroes alive. Yet, each year we go and meet with the House Veterans Affairs Committee staff, and each year they find a new way to say “No.” This past week, we sat down with the Majority and Minority staff and, again, they said “No.”No to Service Dogs for veterans with PTSD. No to our mountain of evidence that these dogs are saving lives. Instead, they told us to wait. Wait until 2020 or 2021 until after the VA completes a study to tell us what we already know. The VA has spent tens of millions of dollars and over ten years “studying” what one of the 550 K9s For Warrior graduates can tell you in ten seconds: the dogs work. We can’t afford to wait any longer. We are losing at least 20 veterans a day to suicide.”
Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, please look at these two photographs. Would you deny that Lily, a service dog, helped save Joe’s life? Would you deny the treatment that Blaze, a service dog, is providing for Adam? And, by the way, most of the dogs trained by K9s For Warriors as service dogs, were previously shelter dogs. Think about that.
The dogs are trained, then matched with a veteran in need. The team then goes through a training program. All of this is provided at no cost to the veteran. K9s For Warriors depends on corporate sponsorships and donations from the caring public.
THE NEW BARKERis asking its readers to please contact your local state representatives. Type in your zip code and your representatives will be displayed. Here is a sample letter you may want to consider sending to you representatives:
Hello Mr./Mrs. (representative’s name),
I’m writing to voice my support of the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members (PAWS) Act, H.B. 3103.
It was introduced by Congressman John Rutherford on June 5th, but was halted by the House Veterans Affairs Committee. With more than 20 veterans a day dying by suicide, it simply doesn’t make sense that the committee tasked with protecting them denies what is now proven to be a life-saving option to mitigate their PTSD: service dogs. Service dog organizations like K9s For Warriors have already scientifically proven that service dogs are highly successful in recovery of PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma, yet the VA healthcare system still refuses to recognize this. We must do more to save the lives and honor the sacrifice of our military heroes.
Service dogs help veterans heal. When they heal, their families heal, and they return to their communities as productive citizens, pursuing higher education and re-entering the workforce, rather than living in isolation, or worse, seeing suicide as the only way out. However, high quality service dogs come at a high price, one which most veterans could never afford on their own. The average cost of a service dog is $27,000.
Medication is not always the answer. The servicemen and women who voluntarily fought for our freedom should not have to suffer even more after their service because they can’t afford the treatment that is best for them. Please support this life-saving initiative that will give veterans the option of choosing a service dog to heal from their invisible wounds. Please vote “Yes.” Thank you for your time.