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Sandra LaFlamme

How Service Animals Helped Me Overcome My Head Injury

When I was a child, I suffered a head injury that drastically changed my life. I was no longer able to do the things I had been able to do before, such as run or talk the same way. While it was difficult, I eventually found new ways to gain function and create a sense of accomplishment in life by doing something that felt natural to me—riding horses.

Growing up, my parents arranged for me to have reading tutors like Mrs. Morrison and horse riding lessons as part of my rehabilitation process. From the very beginning, it felt like the horses understood what I was going through and wanted to help me heal. They were patient and kind with me, not caring that I had suffered a serious head injury.

Riding horses gave me the physical balance and strength that I needed after my head injury. As time went on, they also helped build up my confidence and gave me an outlet to express myself without feeling judged or alienated because of my disability. Riding horses also taught me how to take responsibility for another living creature’s well-being; something which has stayed with me throughout adulthood.

After many years of riding horses with patience and dedication, I began entering show arenas, where I experienced recognition for all of my hard work in overcoming my disability and learning how to ride competitively again. This recognition provided a major boost in confidence which made it easier for me to transition back into “normal” life after suffering such a traumatic experience at such a young age.

Horses have played an invaluable role in helping me overcome the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of suffering a severe head injury as a child. Through them, I have been able to relearn how to be physically active again while gaining purpose from taking care of an animal who accepted me through thick and thin. That’s why my service dog is named Cowgirl. Although there are still hardships associated with living with this disability on a daily basis, having horses and now Cowgirl as my service dog in my life; has made it much easier for me to navigate through these challenges while experiencing joy along the way. Giving back and growing this giving program has enabled me to pay it forward the way my reading tutor, Mrs. Morrison did for me. I owe this therapy so much more than words can express!

We can all help support Canines For Heroes in any way possible, whether it be donating money directly or helping to spread awareness. From providing companionship and protection to acting as a service dog, these animals are making a huge difference in the lives of veterans. A donation may seem small, but the ripple effect of our donations is what will bring positive change and greatly improve the quality of life for many veterans. While giving financially is beneficial and strongly encouraged, simply being an advocate for the cause is extremely important as well. Be aware of organizations like Canines For Heroes that are looking out for those who served out nation and aiding them beyond their call of duty. Act today; donate your time, energy, or money to make a difference!


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A Community in Need and a Response Fueled by Love
The statistics on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide rates in the military and first responder communities are not only alarming but indicative of a systemic crisis. It’s within this fertile, if heart-wrenching, soil that Canines for Heroes took root. Scouring the nation, the program finds and trains service dogs, matching them with veterans and first responders in dire need of emotional support and a renewed sense of purpose. The transformation in recipients is not merely anecdotal; it’s profound and palpable.

How Shaping Training Helps Canines for Heroes Support PTSD Healing

How Shaping Training Helps Canines for Heroes Support PTSD Healing

The process of shaping begins with basic obedience training, where dogs learn commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “heel.” Once they master these fundamental skills, trainers move on to more advanced ones such as opening doors or turning off lights. For someone with PTSD, having a dog that can perform these tasks can be life-changing.

Training a Service Dog: Specific is Terrific

Training a Service Dog: Specific is Terrific

Not every dog has the temperament or aptitude needed to work as a service dog. Every service dog must receive extensive training to ensure that they have the cognitive ability and temperament to take on the task of being their owner’s helper. Additionally, they need to receive proper training to meet their owner’s specific lifestyle and recovery goals. Failure to do this can result in a dog that is not fit for purpose, doesn’t provide the intended assistance, and hinders the owner’s recovery process.

Kelso Has The Keys

Kelso Has The Keys

We focus on building a bond of trust and mutual respect between the dogs and their recipients. We believe that when the dog is engaged, it continues to bond, grow and actually becomes more capable. This leads to a better quality of life for the recipeint. The more engaged the dog, the more its abilities shine through. This is achieved by practicing advanced actions, which include verbal and nonverbal commands, sound cues, and complex tasks that involve decision-making skills.

My Service Dog from Canines For Heroes: A Bright Future Ahead

My Service Dog from Canines For Heroes: A Bright Future Ahead

They say that the first step towards overcoming an addiction is accepting that you have a problem. And that’s exactly what I did 8 months ago. Admitting that I needed help and couldn’t do it alone took a lot of courage, but it was the smartest decision I’ve ever made. After seeking help from a reliable program, I found myself on a path towards sobriety and a bright future overcoming my PTSD. And to top it all off, I have my service dog from Canines For Heroes by my side, who has become an essential part of my recovery journey. I want to share the story of how my service dog has helped me not only stay on the right track but also provided me with a sense of purpose and hope.

Vinca – The Essential Worker Who Changed My Life

Vinca – The Essential Worker Who Changed My Life

Vinca – The Essential Worker Who Changed My Life Everyone has someone who comes into their life and changes everything. Sometimes we don’t even know we need that person until they’re there. For me, that person is an animal named Vinca, my service dog from Canines For Heroes. She’s more than just a companion, she’s an essential worker who helps me in so many ways. I’ll share just a few of the ways Vinca has changed my life for the better.

When I first got Vinca, I didn’t really understand just how much she would help me. I knew that service dogs could be trained to do things like retrieve items or open doors, but I didn’t realize all the other ways Vinca would make my day-to-day life easier. For example, she helps keep me calm in situations where I might feel anxious or overwhelmed. Simply having her by my side is often enough to quell my anxiety. My military flash backs are now to a minimum and I feel more free to be me.

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IRS Tax ID: 81-2787122
Charity Number: CH50110


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