Service Dogs for Veterans in Illinois
Providing Veterans with the best German Shepherd service dogs
For some disabled veterans, being discharged from the military signifies the beginnings of a daunting battle at home. Fortunately, service dogs can provide relief and assist them with many of their special needs. These capable dogs are uniquely suited to make the homes of veterans more disability-friendly because they can be rigorously trained to perform many helpful tasks.
If you are a disabled veteran looking for a service dog in Chicago, Illinois, or nearby areas, understand that they are quite different from the “touchy-feely” dogs you see that are used for emotional support and therapy. Unlike these dogs, which mostly provide value in the form of being cuddle bugs, service dogs are trained to perform essential and specialized tasks for their veteran partners.
Here at Regis Regal German Shepherds we can get you the perfect service dog according to your own individual needs.
How Veteran Service Dogs Assist in your Day-to-Day life
One classic example of a veteran service dog at work is a German shepherd retrieving a dropped object from the floor, a task a disabled vet might have difficulty performing. Service dogs accompany their partners everywhere they go, and other tasks they can perform include:
- Retrieving objects from counters & tables
- Turning light switches on or off
- Pushing automatic elevator buttons
- Standing & bracing for stability during transfer
- Following a command to bark for help
- Fetching a cordless phone in case of an emergency
Pairing hard-working service dogs with their partners helps their humans stay safe, and also allows them to return to a life of independence and dignity. There are also other benefits to consider that are a part of pet ownership. For example, veterans who use service dogs report they have fewer hospitalizations, less anxiety, depression and numerous other health benefits.
The Ultimate German Shepherd Service Dog
Service dogs are asked to perform complex tasks, and it requires great discipline and considerable intelligence to pull them off. Lots of dogs can potentially be fantastic service dogs, even if they are mixed breeds. All that is required is that they can be trained to do the necessary tasks, are healthy and have a stable temperament.
Although other breeds make good service dogs, German Shepherds are world-class dogs that are exceptionally suited for this role. They are such an excellent fit because they have been purposely bred for intelligence and their working ability for over a century.
A sense of duty comes naturally to this majestic breed, and their temperament, sense of obedience and impeccable character lends credence to the fact that they are the best fit for serving their veteran partners.
What to Know Before Getting a Service Dog
As far as getting a service dog, know that these canines are suited to United States vets who have a physical disability that is permanent, has hearing loss, or has MS or similar progressive conditions.
However, keep in mind that these types of service dogs don’t assist veterans who have impaired vision. For vets with impaired vision, the capabilities of a guide service dog suits them best.
Additionally, if you live in the Prairie State and are researching service dogs in Illinois, it is imperative to know as much as you can about its breed. That helps prepare you for the special partnership you will have with them later. You should always adopt from a professional who specializes in providing service dogs for veterans, too.
Service Dog Programs
There are programs and charities that veterans can go through to get help with attaining a service dog. One way to get one is through the Veteran’s Administration (VA).
The Americans with Disabilities Association defines a service animal as:
“A dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.”
Service animals that perform tasks for the disabled are defined very differently than emotional support animals by the VA. If a veteran meets the criteria for having a physical disability, then they may qualify to receive a service animal through the VA.
The VA also notes that even though service animals are generally only considered for individuals that have physical disabilities, it may be possible to approve a service animal for use if that animal is specifically trained to aid with mental health disabilities. For example, panic attacks could qualify in this instance.
For more information on how to get a service dog in Illinois see the veteran’s service dog benefits page at the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs website.
Achieving Well-Being for PTSD
“Service dogs raise their masters' sense of well-being.” ~ Al Franken
The quote above from the former Minnesota senator is an apt statement that service dogs bear out time and again. The statement is also particularly relevant to veterans who have spent time in war zones and are troubled by crippling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Veterans with PTSD often have to cope with night terrors, flashbacks, insomnia, fear, depression, anxiety and other debilitating effects. Not to mention the fact that some former armed service members often find out that their severe PTSD is often resistant to conventional antidepressant treatment. Many of these vets often experience fear and hopelessness that there is no viable treatment to their traumatic symptoms.
PTSD Service Dogs
Less than 40 percent of veterans with PTSD seek treatment, and those that do face long wait times at the VA; wait times that can even be months or even years. A better solution than waiting comes with a wagging tail, walks on four legs (usually) and has a cold, wet nose: The PTSD service dog.
PTSD service dogs are trained to perform many tasks including “ the block,” which means if their partner is in a crowded situation, the dog will gently nudge a person away, essentially blocking that other person. That way, the dog’s partner doesn’t feel their space is being invaded.
These intelligent service dogs are adept at tasks such as bracing and picking things off the floor. However, one of a service dog’s biggest assets is that they can help veterans suffering from night terrors, a vivid and disturbing nightmare common to some PTSD sufferers.
Why the GSD is Fit for Duty
There is a reason that German Shepherds are often illustrated on the logos and flags of organizations that train and provide service dogs. For one thing, they cut a distinguished silhouette, but more importantly, GSDs trained to be service dogs are loyal, intelligent, obedient and have an even temperament.
We touched a little on the amazing qualities of German shepherds throughout this article, but it only scratches the service on what makes this regal breed the best fit for helping veterans with disabilities.
Matching Veterans with Loyal Partners
Located in Spring Grove, IL, Regis Regal is the #1 breeder of German shepherds in North America. For 30 years, we have offered top-notch service dog training in Chicago and its surrounding areas. You can trust us to continually go above and beyond to make sure each pup finds their right partner.
We specialize in providing German shepherd service dogs for soldiers that are suffering with PTSD and anxiety. We offer exceptional service dog training in Chicago and are here to help with picking out the best service dogs for veterans in Illinois.
We spend years giving the best German shepherds service dog training in Illinois because we feel it is our obligation to give back to our men and women of the armed services. We additionally work closely with charities across the country to ensure that veterans are being excellently matched with their canine partners.