Veterans

RFI provides service dogs to Veterans with disabilities related to combat and non combat service. RFI trains service dogs to help with any service connected disability including Post Traumatic Stress.

Disabilities

The ADA defines an “individual with a disability” as a person who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities – hearing, seeing, speaking, sitting, standing, walking, concentrating, or performing manual tasks
  2. has a record of such an impairment – i.e. was substantially limited in the past, such as prior to undergoing rehabilitation
  3. is regarded, or treated by an employer, as having a substantially limiting impairment

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people suffer after seeing or living through a dangerous event. When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. However in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.

Service examples of RFI dogs:

  • Orientation to any prosthetic limbs that will need to be retrieved
  • The ability to “brace” and support the weight of their veteran
  • Training on pulling and stopping wheelchairs
  • Reduction of heeling speed to one step at a time, for veterans on crutches
  • Specific complex task chains, such as:
    • Open fridge, get water, close fridge
    • Open dryer, get clothes, place in basket
    • Un-tie shoes, take off, place at door, take off socks
    • Get remote
    • Get phone
    • Push elevator buttons
    • Get groceries off shelf, place in cart
    • Open door, wait, shut door
    • Push a panic button in case of an emergency

These dogs will be the hands, legs, and friends of these veterans, providing companionship while coping with an emotional overload.