Heroes Helping Heroes

Heroes Helping Heroes

Grandma Lucy’s is a proud supporter of Little Angels Service Dogs, a 501c3 nonprofit, and the lifechanging work their staff and service dogs do. Little Angels is dedicated to improving the lives of recipients and restoring freedom to those struggling with mobility, psychiatric needs, seizures, and more. America’s veterans are a subject near and dear to not only the hearts of Grandma Lucy’s, but to Little Angels as well. Our veterans make the ultimate sacrifice for us and exhibit the utmost courage to protect civilians’ freedom. Through the work that Little Angels and similar organizations do, they are able to help provide assistance to veterans and help them gain newfound freedom and peace as they return home. Executive Director of Little Angels Service Dogs, Josh Drew, shared his insight on how service dogs aid veterans and all that these amazing animals do for their humans.

golden retriever service dog with bags of dog food

“One of the greatest services we can provide, is helping those that have selflessly served us. This Memorial Day, we wanted to highlight how canines are able to help our veterans, and the [tasks] they do for them on a daily basis. Service dogs are so impressive; there are many things the majority of us don’t realize they can do – and for those of us that do know, we still think we are just scraping the surface of dogs’ abilities.

Little Angels is proud to train psychiatric service dogs. A psychiatric service dog is very different from a therapy dog or Emotional Support Animal [ESA]. An ESA is an animal whose presence helps a person deal with emotional or mental [health struggles]. Often, this is stress, anxiety, panic, and sometimes PTSD. A therapy animal is usually a dog that has been trained to work with large groups of people and help them relax during stressful or traumatic times. A psychiatric service dog is a canine specifically trained for a disabled person with a psychiatric condition so debilitating that it is hard for them to function on a day to day basis. This can be severe anxiety or panic, it could be a traumatic brain injury, trauma, PTSD, and [more].

At Little Angels, we train psychiatric service dogs for both civilians and veterans. Being one of the few providers in the country of civilian psychiatric service dogs, that is the majority of our demand. However, we love and are extremely proud when a veteran needs a service dog from us. There are usually two types of dogs that veterans will need, either a mobility assistance animal for a physical injury suffered while serving, or a psychiatric service dog for mental [trauma] suffered while serving. Mobility assistance animals are more common to see, and are easier to spot. Often, they have a large bracing harness on. They usually help their person walk, stand and sit, rise from falls, and generally make moving around more accessible. They’ll pick up dropped items, open and close doors and cabinets, hit light switches, and even dial an emergency phone to request help.

lab service dog lying down with bag of artisan dog food on grass

A psychiatric service dog [PSD] performs just as important jobs, but often it is not as noticeable as a mobility assistance dog. A PSD is specially trained to detect oncoming psychiatric attacks through scent detection of pheromone scents released by the body. Often times, when a person starts to have one of these attacks it can be debilitating and stop whatever they are currently doing. Some of these attacks, however, can be [halted] or lessened in severity if caught before they happen. That is why a PSD is so valuable. Using scent detection, they can determine when an attack is coming, usually about ten minutes [before], and let their [handler] know so the person can start preparing and implement preventative measures. Although this alone is incredible and life changing, they also do several other tasks. Little Angels’ PSD’s are trained in deep pressure therapy to help an individual [calm down], non-protective boundary control to help create personal space in public, ‘about-face’ to help watch one’s back in public, and ‘corner’, to help clear corners in public and let the person know there is no danger on the other side.

We are so grateful to have the opportunity to serve those that have so bravely served us. It is the least we can do to show our appreciation. For any veteran that feels they could use a service dog, but has not yet received one or maybe didn’t even know they could get one, we would be happy to explain the process! We would like to extend a huge and grateful thank you to all veterans this Memorial Day, and an eternal appreciation for those no longer with us. Little Angels [is thankful for] the sacrifice of you and your family, and we will always be happy to help!”