Veteran and Her Service Dog
Spirit is Wendy Clouser’s partner, as well as her pet. As a service dog, he helps the vet deal with PTSD and the effects of injuries. She relies on a wheelchair much of the time.
Clouser is a long-time dog lover, but she didn’t see a place in her life for a service dog. That all changed five years ago when she met two people who explained how much they relied on their dogs. Once she saw how the dogs made life easier, she decided to give it a try.
She teamed up with a nonprofit that trains dogs for wounded vets.
Argus Made the Difference
Argus Service Dog Foundation made the process simple for Wendy, without long waits or large fees. The team at Argus trains service dogs to handle complicated tasks for their owners, from retrieving household objects to opening doors and safely navigating public areas.
Argus founders Brandon McMillan, Eric Brotman and Mike Herstik are on a mission to make the lives of disabled vets easier. The foundation provides a full spectrum of help, from matching the service dog to each vet, training both and providing follow-up.
“Give Lives Back”
Argus and Spirit have changed things for the better for Clouser. She says simply, “They give lives back to people.”
She now feels comfortable in social situations. Before she went through the motions, but didn’t feel connected or genuinely happy with others. With the aptly named Spirit in her life, she feels comfortable going out and meeting people.
This short video shows Clouser and Spirit together. ‘’
Service Dogs: a Critical Contribution
According to Stars and Stripes,the Veteran’s Administration is conducting a major, $10 million study to quantify the emotional help that support dogs offer vets.
But veterans who currently rely on the dogs have already decided. Said one, “My dog did more for me than any psychologist could in a lifetime.”
Clouser points out that she is more social and more willing to try new things because of Spirit. With the dog’s help, she is now kayaking, downhill skiing and rock climbing.
Service dogs keep vets independent, physically active and engaged in everyday life.
The Argus Approach
Argus started several years ago when Herstik and McMillan decided to help a vet who lost both legs in Afghanistan. At Walter Reed for the final phase of the training, they encountered several other vets who wanted a service dog too. That was the inspiration for Argus.
There are many organizations that train service dogs for vets and the disabled. But they often have long waiting lists, so getting a dog can take months and even years. Most charge for their services, making it financially impossible for a large number of vets.
Argus has a different approach. It is set up to match vets and dogs quickly. The foundation uses volunteers for the training and never charges for its work.
The founders are well matched for the job they do. Mike Herstik is a canine trainer and instructor with an international reputation. He has worked with Navy SEALS and IDF K9. Brandon McMillan has served as an animal trainer for movies and television. He stars in Lucky Dog on CBS, and has a long history of rescuing dogs from death row and training them as service dogs. Eric Brotman is a psychologist. His program Life Skills helps the developmentally disabled with behavior difficulties.
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