News Anchor Trains Service Dog for Wounded Warriors
“He’s changed my life,” said television news anchor Andrea McCarren about her buddy Bunce. A service-dog-in-training, Bunce has been her companion for two years.
Now Bunce is headed out to change the life of a wounded warrior, one in need of the daily help the yellow lab can offer as a service dog.
Bunce got a varied education with reporter McCarren, who was responsible for his training in his first two years. The dog accompanied her to the Emmy Awards in Washington, D.C., to the scenes of crimes, through snowstorms and even to the White House.
The service dog was a crowd-pleaser wherever he went. In his travels with McCarren, he met lawmakers, other television reporters and vets. He even met NHL high-scorer Alex Ovechkin.
Star of the Newsroom
The crew and reporting team backstage at station WUSA9 are big fans of the dog. Said one crew member, “He doesn’t care about politics…He’s all about love.”
As McCarren’s companion, the dog has become a fixture at the station. Like every dog, a natural-born comedian, he delivered laughs and sloppy wet kisses wherever he went.
The station celebrated his last day by showing him off in front of the camera. Over and over, the staff said how proud everyone was to be part of his training and puppyhood.
Helping with War Trauma
Bunce is moving on to further training and his job as a service dog for a veteran. Appropriately, he is named for Marine Corporal Justin Bunce. As a puppy, the dog accompanied McCarren on a story about the marine, who was injured in Iraq.
Vets dealing with physical disabilities resulting from their service in the Middle East are often dismayed. They must learn to navigate the world all over again, due to limited mobility or impaired vision or hearing.
That’s where service dogs can help. They can assist with a wide range of physical tasks, including:
- Stand and brace
- Retrieve phones or other items
- Pick up items that the vet drops
- Get items from counters and shelves
- Carry items in a special backpack
- Help with balance
- Pull a manual wheelchair
- Pay a cashier
- Push buttons to open automatic doors
- Turn lights on and off in a home
- Open doors
Helping with Invisible Injuries
Equally important is the help that service dogs provide for the psychological and emotional wounds of war. These dogs can support vets dealing with anxiety, depression, flashbacks and bad dreams, social anxiety, hyper-vigilance, insomnia and guilt.
According to some studies, about one-fifth of all vets who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with depression and PTSD. Surveys show that vets with support dogs require fewer hospital stays.
The dog’s constant presence and non-judgmental love can reduce the number of bouts of suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety that vets experience. Vets with dogs are less at risk of violence, drug use and alcoholism. Overall, the dogs keep the vet’s medical and psychiatric costs lower.
Register Your Service Dog
Bunce and the other dogs like him are helping vets live productive, full lives. By registering them, owners have the paperwork that makes their critical role official in public places.
USA Service Dog Registration makes it simple to register a service animal. The store on their website also provides a wide range of Service Dog Packages that offer a variety of helpful tools, like credentials, service dog patches, ID tags, electronic ID, service dog vests, collars and leashes.