The other day one of our WebVet writers sent me a link to a video that not only brought a smile to my face but also tears to my eyes. You know, those "I can't believe what a wonderful story this is" kind of happy tears.
This particular story was about a woman named Lori Stevens and her dog Beau. Lori, an inspiration to all human kind, is the founder of Patriot PAWS Service Dogs, a non-profit organization in Texas. Patriot PAWS trains service dogs to enhance the lives of disabled veterans who have sacrificed so very much to serve our country. The goal is to enable these dogs to restore many of the physical and emotional freedoms that have been compromised due to someone's physical disabilities.
While there are many organizations that train service dogs, what's special about Patriot PAWS and its owner is they operate solely off of donations. So just so we're clear on this: This amazing woman selects qualified dogs from local animal shelters and rescue groups, spends between 12 and 18 months training them as service dogs - to the tune of $20,000 per dog -- and then virtually gives them away to disabled people in need. Can you imagine the passion and compassion it takes, for both dogs and humans, to accomplish something like this?
Once these dogs are trained, they are able to assist disabled individuals in accomplishing daily tasks that might otherwise be incredibly difficult or simply impossible. Each dogs' training is tailored to the individual needs of the future owner and their capabilities run the gamut from getting help in emergency situations and pulling wheelchairs to opening and closing cabinets and helping with the laundry.
In my book, not only are the disabled veterans heroes, but so are the dogs trained by Patriot PAWS and its owner Lori Stevens.
While the training these dogs and the ultimate benefit to disabled individuals is a remarkable gift, as animal lovers we all know the one gift we never have to teach a dog to bestow is that of unconditional love and devotion.
To learn more about Patriot PAWS Service Dogs or to make a donation, please visit www.patriotpaws.org