Service dogs help assist veterans and residents

Service dogs help assist veterans and residents

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The goal of Canines for Service is to increase quality of life for veterans and others with physical limitations. 

"Due to physical and psychological changes, veterans aren't able to live the same quality of life they had prior to their deployment or military service," explained Rick Hairston, co-founder of Canines for Service. "So by being able to add a dog to their life, we're able to give them some of that back."

The dogs are paired with veterans and people with disabilities. If it's difficult for someone to leave their bed in the middle of the night for water, the dog is there to help.

But the tasks don't end there. The dogs are able to pick up small items like loose change and assist with laundry. The help they can provide is endless.

It takes at least a year for these dogs to be trained, sometimes up to two or three.

They're taught simple commands, from sit or face forward, which evolve into more complex tasks, like lifting legs into a bed, or retrieving a prosthetic leg. Their impact on veterans goes beyond simple tasks though – it's an invaluable addition to their lives.

"You get an email from one of your clients that said they had been thinking about taking their life, because they couldn't imagine going on anymore. And when they receive the service dog, that's no longer even a thought in their head they would do that. Those become the things that are powerful that make you wanna do it," Hairston said.

It costs nearly $30,000 to train a service dog with the nearly 100 commands it will learn through the process.

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