The Hampton Roads Hounds for Heroes organization is working hard to enrich the lives of veterans and give a second chance to some shelter dogs. Their event this Thursday, June 16th at Applebees, Chesapeake, will help raise funds to support their mission. The simple act of having a meal with friends, family or neighbors will help the hounds and veterans alike in so many ways.
I chatted with the Founder and Executive Director for Hampton Roads Hounds for Heroes, Linda McAbee, about this year’s Applebees event.
- Q: Annaka Chesnutt, FOX 43
- A: Linda McAbee, Founder and Executive Director, Hampton Roads Hounds for Heroes
Tell me a little bit about Hounds for Heroes for people that may not know:
I just started this organization last year. My son-in-law had written a few books on suicide prevention and he encouraged me to quit my job and get dogs for veterans with PTSD. So, last year I quit my job and took my 401k money and started this! I’m getting shelter dogs that have very specific traits like confidence, (who are) very friendly and get along with cats and kids.
How many dogs do you currently have?
I currently have three dogs in the program right now. In our first year we’ve placed two of them so far. Joe Fisher, from WAVY 10 was there for our first placement and since then I went out and got three more!
Tell me about the unique dog names.
Each dog is named after a veteran who lost their battle to PTSD. Some families of the fallen vets will call and ask us to name the next dog after their sons, sisters and other family members who served, so it’s very special and it really personalizes it for us and the veteran that gets the dog.
What kind of tests do the dogs have to go through in order to be service animals for vets?
It takes about a year to train these dogs and once they are intuitive enough to recognize stress or PTSD, we train them on how to take care of the situation. Signs the dogs may give their veteran include: nudging, jumping up, hugging, barking or anything to get the vets attention.
We us the Assistance Dog International program as the governing body for our service dogs and they have a test call ‘The Public Access Test‘ which includes: lay down, stay, and they have to not pick up food. They need to know how to walk directly beside their veteran, when to sit facing forward and when to face backward.
For example, if a veteran is at an ATM machine paying a bill, the dog needs to be facing backward so he has the vets back! If they come to a crosswalk, the dog has to sit facing forward. Just things like that, the dog has to know when and where to do this kind of stuff.
How do you match the dogs with the Vets?
When a dog matches a veteran’s specific needs, and he/she likes the dog, then we will work with them together one-on-one for another year of personalized training. By doing this type of training, the vet can really personalize the relationship with the dog to fit their needs.
**For More Information Visit : hamptonroadshoundsforheroes.org**