Service Dog Calms Veterans PTSD Symptoms

How Gumbo the dog has changed Erick Scott's life.
By: Jessica Remitz

We all know how welcome a wagging tail or nuzzle from our pets can feel after a particularly long or stressful day, but for Erick Scott, an Iraq war veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this kind of touch has been able to help bring him back from the darkest places of his mind.

Scott, a husband and a father, came home from war experiencing survivor’s guilt and nightmares as a result of his time with the army and was soon diagnosed with PTSD. Frustrated by his diagnosis, the anxiety he was feeling and the fact that medicine wasn’t helping improve his condition, he finally found hope in theK9s for Warriors program where he met his service dog Gumbo.

K9s for Warriors is a non-profit that trains service dogs for veterans like Scott who need help calming down when showing symptoms of PTSD. Located in Florida, veterans go to K9s for Warriors from all over the country to train and be paired with a service dog. Before sending the dogs home with their veterans, pairs are required to live at the organization’s facility to receive personalized training and become comfortable with their dogs before going home. The wait list for these dogs, who are trained and given to veterans free of charge, can be up to a year.

In the video below from USA Today, Gumbo sits quietly next to Scott until he begins describing the moment he first learned he had PTSD. He becomes uncomfortable as he recounts the situation and Gumbo leaps into action to calm him down. Since bringing Gumbo home, Scott says he feels much more optimistic about being able to deal with PTSD with Gumbo at his side.