Dogs help veterans dogged by war
David Sharpe credits a pit bull with saving his life, and, ten years later, he’s trying to give other veterans suffering from war-related post traumatic stress disorder that same helping hand.
Ten years ago, Sharpe was holding a revolver in his mouth and was prepared to pull the trigger when his six-month-old pit bull Cheyenne licked his ear.
“It was just one of those looks dogs give you,” Sharpe told the Washington Post. “It was like, ‘What are you doing? Who’s going to take care of me? Who else is going to let me sleep in this bed?’”
“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I owe her my life.”
As the Post article this week pointed out, “this is a different kind of tale of K-9 Corps bravery, distinct from those exploits of grenades sniffed out and warnings barked. Cheyenne’s heroics were in her unconditional devotion.”
Sharpe was a security guard for the Air Force and returned to the U.S. ten years ago with post traumatic stress disorder — though it wouldn’t be diagnosed for several more years.
“I couldn’t talk to anybody — not my father, not the counselors — but I could talk to that dog, and she never judged me,” Sharpe says. “We don’t want to hear, ‘Wow, that must have been horrible.’ We just want to talk.”
In 2002, visiting a shelter with a friend, he had adopted Cheyenne, one of seven pit bulls who’d recently been rescued from a fighting ring. “She was the force that pulled me back into society,” says Sharpe, 32, who is now a program analyst in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Sharpe is trying to give other shelter dogs a chance to save other emotionally wounded warriors, through P2V.org (Pets to Vets), a nonprofit group that links service members with shelter animals and helps them with related expenses and training.
Sharpe got the idea for P2V after seeing a documentary on the role service animals can play in a veteran’s recovery — dogs that cost thousands of dollars to train and generally require a long wait.
Sharpe saw a more direct route — and one that can save dogs and humans.
“Eighteen vets commit suicide every day in this country, and one animal is put to sleep every eight seconds. They can help save each other,” he said.
It costs P2V about $650 for each adoption, including veterinary care, supplies, health insurance and the training consultants the groups make available. So far, P2V has matched 47 animals to vets, many of them former patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
(Source: Washington Post)
(Photo: By Carol Guzy / Washington Post)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air force, animals, david sharpe, dogs, p2v, pets, pets to vets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, rescue, save lives, shelter, therapy dogs, veterans, vets, walter reed, war