Dogs and Tags of Wyoming trains PTSD/ TBI service dogs

Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 12:34 AM CDT
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Many Cheyenne small businesses are feeling the effects of COVID-19 financially. Despite the name... non-profits are also feeling these effects.

Dogs and Tags of Wyoming was scheduled for Cheyenne's Thankful Thursday on April 23, but it has been cancelled due to COVID-19. The organization relies on shelters and rescues, and community members giving puppies from their litters.

Paula Cooke, director of Dogs and Tags of Wyoming, will continue to give back to the community and military in one of the best ways possible. The organization gives people a chance of living who just want to live their lives, through service dogs.

:The thing to remember is, in the military you always have you fellow soldiers there to support you," said Cooke. "They always have your back. When you come back to the U.S., it doesn't just turn off. There's no magical switch that says, 'You're home now, turn it off.'"

These service dogs not only help people with PTSD, but also with traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, seizures, mobility assistance, health issues, diabetes and autism.

The process starts off with a lot of questions; first and foremost, applicants need a letter from the doctor stating the need for a service animal, to ensure there is a real need for one.

"I get down to the core. What do you need your do to do for you? We start with that. After that, we continue training and we do silly things like the lights and doors and stuff to keep the dogs engaged," said Cooke.

The program is about a year long. Cooke said she has had clients graduate as early as seven months, and the longest training has taken two years.

She also says if people take the time with their dogs to do the work and learn the skills, then as soon as they pass their certification they're on their own.

Service dogs are especially helpful when their humans are getting stressed or agitated. The dog can immediately help their person.

"When an individual gets upset, stressed out, have flashbacks etc., they release a pheromone that a lot of dogs can smell before the individual even realizes that they're getting agitated. They can alert that person so they can get out of the situation before it gets bad for them," Cooke said.

Service dogs come in many different shapes and sizes, and Dogs and Tags do their best to match the dogs with the right person.