Dog Tag Buddies assists veterans with disabilities

By 
Chris Mcconnell Outlook Staff Writer
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Representatives from Dog Tag Buddies, a community program that pairs service dogs with disabled veterans, were at the Healing Field last week with five German Shepherd pups for socialization training. From the left are DeeDe Baker, Executive Director; Bonnie Lusby, Trainer; Abigail Harper, Administrative support for DTB; Kati Grove, Operations Director; Amanda Sugita, Volunteer.

Representatives from Dog Tag Buddies, a community program that pairs service dogs with disabled veterans, were at the Healing Field last week with five German Shepherd pups for socialization training. From the left are DeeDe Baker, Executive Director; Bonnie Lusby, Trainer; Abigail Harper, Administrative support for DTB; Kati Grove, Operations Director; Amanda Sugita, Volunteer.

Dog Tag Buddies Executive Director DeeDe Baker and others were on hand at the Healing Field next to South School last week with five German shepherd puppies destined for the DTB program.

Baker said the five four– month–old pups are rescues from the same litter. “The dogs are pure–bred and are being socialized and evaluated for the DTB program which operates on a community training model: The veterans apply, then are matched with a dog and train together as a team.”

The program’s focus is helping veterans live more fulfilling lives through training and building a relationship with their dog. This can assist them in finding alternate methods to recognize and manage the symptoms of their disabilities, discourage self–isolation and help find a renewed sense of purpose.

The DTB program services are available to veterans with a hidden injury documented as a disability by Veterans Affairs (PTS, TBI, MST). For those veterans with disabilities that interfere with daily living, DTB guides the veteran in the training of the dog they are paired with. Teams complete basic obedience, advanced obedience, public access and task training and ensures the dog’s skills match the unique needs of the veteran.

The process requires a minimum 32–week commitment from the veteran and the entire process takes approximately 12–18 months to complete.

The service comes at no cost to the veteran and fuel–assistance is available for those traveling more than 100 miles each way.

DTB is funded through grants and the generosity of local communities and contributions help with the cost of adoption, training and care of rescued dogs.

Upon completion of the program, service dogs meet or exceed recognized training standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans.

To learn more, apply for services or make a tax deductible contribution interested parties can reach Dog Tag Buddies at www.dogtagbuddies.org or (406) 969–1127.

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