Patriot PAWS service dogs trained to do amazing things

Patriot PAWS service dogs are trained to do some pretty incredible things but perhaps even more amazing are the stories about things the dogs do on their own.

The organization's puppy raisers, inmates, students and volunteers work to teach the dogs how to assist a veteran with disabilities to do everyday tasks.

Assistant Executive Director of Patriot PAWS Terri Stringer says, "Oh they amaze me. I've never had a dog do the things that these guys do."

Sometimes there are special requests that trainers take into account.

'So many times it's little things that we don't think about. We take things for granted but we have two arms, two legs. But it's very different. It's a very different world when they come back," Stringer says. "We try to tailor the dogs to the veterans' needs as much as possible."

Juan, an Iraq veteran who was standing next to a fuel truck when a sniper blew it up, lost both his arms and wanted a dog that could help him put his pants on.

Stringer says, "By the time he got there not only could the dog help him to pull up his pants but the dog could very gingerly pull up his zipper."

Sometimes Patriot PAWS dogs go above and beyond doing things they were never even trained to do. That's exactly what happened when Richard an Army and Navy veteran who had been placed with a golden doodle named Wendy suffered a stroke.

"So our dogs were all taught to go get the phone in case of an emergency. So Wendy went and got the phone and brought it to him and put it in his hand. Well the stroke had affected the right side of his body he couldn't do anything he couldn't dial and so Wendy sat there and looked at him for a minute or so and went uh-huh and she actually went and picked up the phone from his right hand and put it in his left hand so he could call for help," Stringer says.

Patriot PAWS trainer Rachel Bess experienced a similar situation when she took home a chocolate labrador named Stan home with her one night.

 "Whenever we went to bed I let him sleep in my bed and at like 2 in the morning I woke up and he was touching my face with his nose," Bess says.

Bess says she rolled over but Stan kept nudging her so she got up to take him out.

"As soon as I got up out of the bed Stan ran upstairs and I thought um okay this is really weird so I followed him up there both the kids doors were shut and Stan is sitting at my son Rhett's door," Bess says. "And he's just sitting there and looking at me and whenever I open the door I can hear Rhett and he's very lightly like whining. He woke me up to tell me, that my son, was up there crying."

Bess is a Marine Corps veteran herself and she says she already knows the healing power of a Patriot PAWS pup.

"No matter what you do, no matter what you've done they don't care. They love you," Bess says.

And Bess says the bond that is formed between a veteran and a dog is indescribable.

"Like I can't imagine how much he's going to change a veteran's life," Bess says.

That's why Patriot PAWS trainers let the dogs choose their veterans at graduation.

"The dog knows who they want to bond with," Stringer says.

You can help or donate by going to PatriotPaws.org

FOX 7 is helping train a Patriot PAWS dog, Tommy, and you can see his stories and watch him on our TOMMYCam at www.fox7austin.com/fox-7-patriot-paws.

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