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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/9/14

Some War Dogs Get PTSD

Message Suzana Megles
In April's Guidepost- the cover showed a beautiful medaled war dog and his handler.  Titled "A Different
Kind of Hero" his picture still  brings tears to my eyes when I look at him so proud and handsome.  I find
almost all dogs exceptionally wonderful and loving- and certainly the dogs we train for war are this and
more.  As they are asked to perform in war, some of them come home battered and bruised.  Some also
come home with an all too common affliction of many of our soldiers --Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Ddoc  the pictured dog is a Belgian Malinois who is presently a retired military working dog. The double
letter in his name signifies that he was bred to be an MWD at Lackland Air Force Base.  I surmised that 
MWD stands for Military War Dog. 
Sgt. Chloe Wells of Fayettesville, N. Carolina- pictured with him on the cover is a Behavioral Health
therapist who deals with the trials of soldiers who suffer PTSD.   She ultimately would be the one who
would help Ddoc to overcome this terrible affliction --PTSD.  He was one of 650 canines who have served
in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Here they worked as sentries and scouts, sniffed out bombs, and cleared
buildings while protecting our soldiers. 
These dogs are tough and brave and loyal, but of course, they are not immune to the horrors of war .  Now 
Ddoc was in need of a loving home.  The family who had adopted him wasn't able to keep him.  While their
reasons weren't given, I believe they probably couldn't handle Ddoc's PTSD.
Even though Sgt. Wells (Chloe) had two other dogs and recognized she wasn't a professional handler, she
and her husband took in Ddoc-at least til another home for him could be found.  The husband wasn't too
happy to get yet another large dog to care for.  But Chloe reminded her husband that Ddoc was a veteran
and they owed him that much at least.
With Sofie and Ranger ensconced in another room -- at least temporarily, they put Ddoc in the living room
by himself and laid down a blanket for him to lay on.  They watched Ddoc tense as he started to sniff the
room as though he was still on a mission -- clearing the space for anything dangerous.
Finally, he relaxed and lay on the blanket.  But then  BOOM!  The house shook from the practice rounds of
artillery being fired at Bragg- some 40 minutes away.  Poor Ddoc -  while Sofie and Ranger were quiet in
the other room Ddoc jumped up and frantically circled the coffee table, stopping to listen intently for what
might come next.
Trying to calm him, Chloe told him that it was okay now.  It's all done.  But it was as though he didn't hear
her and shaking, he didn't even look at her.  He was clearly some place else.  She realized it was the same
intense and haunted expression -- the paralyzing fear she would see in the soldiers she counseled.
Even Jeff felt sorry for Ddoc and said that this poor dog was really suffering and hurting.  Yes, she said that
she hadn't known about this problem before.  That night she called Ddoc's former handler in Afghanistan
and learned what happened to Ddoc while there.
She then relayed to Jeff what happened in Afghanistan :  "Just a few months go Ddoc was out on patrol with
his handler, Mike.  There was motor fire.  Ddoc and Mike were blown off their feet.  Mike landed on top of
Ddoc.  He tried to return fire but Ddoc wouldn't let him.  He dragged Mike to a ditch and stood guard over him
until it was safe to go back to the base.  Ddoc spent the night under Mike's bed.  He wouldn't stop trembling."
Ddoc was never the same after that.  He refused to come out from Mike's bed when Mike got his gear to go to
breakfast.  He wouldn't go on patrol.  Now they knew they had to send him home.  Even though Mike and Ddoc
found 14 IEDs which saved a lot of soldiers' lives, Mike didn't think he would ever be able to work again.
It would be a long protracted training by Chloe to bring peace and tranquility into Ddoc's life, but even though
he would almost be glued to her leg every time they went even for a walk, in time Ddoc began to heal.  She tells
of all the things she did to make him less fearful and more excepting of Jeff and the two dogs Sofie and Ranger.
And that day finally came when he showed signs of healing- especially when Chloe found Ddoc snuggled next
to Jeff on the floor. 
Chloe's wonderful patience with him worked wonders, and now she is even training him to be a therapy dog. 
There is so much more re her daily struggles with Ddoc in this post.  It even tells of the success Chloe had in
taking him to a crowded memorial for Fort Bragg's Military working dogs.  To her relief, it came off without a
I shared this Guidepost with my sister and others, but I knew I had to share Ddoc's story with those of you who
don't get the Guidepost.  It gave me a very good feeling to know that there are people like Chloe and Jeff who
feel an obligation to help our returning war dogs like Ddoc who need it.

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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