WBZ Cares: Specialized Training

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling Operation Delta Dog whose mission is to rescue shelter dogs and train them to work as service dogs for disabled veterans who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and related challenges.

WBZ Cares features Operation Delta Dog. The nonprofit rescues shelter dogs and turns them into service dogs for veterans. 

“Probably the best quote I've ever had is ‘Thank you for my husband back and my daughter's father’,” said Operation Delta Dog’s Training Director Carolyn Barney.

She says because the dogs serve veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or military sexual assault, that specialized training takes a year and a half.

“So it is of the psychological service dog nature, but many of them also have physiological issues, so the dogs are to mitigate anxiety. It might be to lead them out of a situation if their anxiety is getting too high. The other thing they do is mitigate nightmares,” Barney outlined.

A common PTSD symptom. 

“We teach the dog that that's the cue to go to paw on them and wake them up,” said Barney.

 Vince Ylitalo is the veteran his service dog Tippy helps him cope with the symptoms of PTSD.

“Anxiety, depression, my anger issue which was piqued at many times. So yeah, she helps me with all that stuff. So, it's unbelievable how much a service dog can help,” Ylitalo commented.

Tippy's also trained to recognize when Vince is having a nightmare. 

“She'll actually wake me up, you know, so I'm not having it constantly. It's not strong. She'll actually start kicking me or just jump on me, you know, just loving me and whatnot and wake me up because of the weight. I can sleep better. I know I can sleep because if something does happen, she's there to help me. Even even now if I get really nervous because of my PTSD she'll actually start cuddling me and say ‘hey, you know, pet me. Enjoy yourself. You know, it's not that bad’. So yeah, she's very, very helpful,” Ylitalo concluded. 

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Shari Small Reports

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