Skip to comments.After Duty, Dogs Suffer Like Soldiers
Posted on 12/02/2011 4:41:24 AM PST by Racehorse
The call came into the behavior specialists here from a doctor in Afghanistan. His patient had just been through a firefight and now was cowering under a cot, refusing to come out.
Apparently even the chew toys hadnt worked.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, thought Dr. Walter F. Burghardt Jr., chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base. Specifically, canine PTSD.
If anyone needed evidence of the frontline role played by dogs in war these days, here is the latest: the four-legged, wet-nosed troops used to sniff out mines, track down enemy fighters and clear buildings are struggling with the mental strains of combat nearly as much as their human counterparts.
By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are developing canine PTSD. Of those, about half are likely to be retired from service, Dr. Burghardt said.
Though veterinarians have long diagnosed behavioral problems in animals, the concept of canine PTSD is only about 18 months old, and still being debated. But it has gained vogue among military veterinarians, who have been seeing patterns of troubling behavior among dogs exposed to explosions, gunfire and other combat-related violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Like humans with the analogous disorder, different dogs show different symptoms. Some become hyper-vigilant. Others avoid buildings or work areas that they had previously been comfortable in. Some undergo sharp changes in temperament, becoming unusually aggressive with their handlers, or clingy and timid. Most crucially, many stop doing the tasks they were trained to perform.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
War dog ping.
Having seen how some dogs can panic at the sound of gunfire or thunder I can well imagine how some of these dogs behave.
Tell your Congressman to vote them all a nice disability pension.
Thanks for teaching me somthing new today!
If you want to put doggy thoughts into their heads, he said, the dog is thinking: when I see this kind of individual, things go boom, and Im distressed.
That’s a pretty good assessment of all koranimals.
I like the last sentence in the article where the vet says, “Dogs never forget.”
What a gorgeous picture.
When Dogs were used to find survivors in the OKC Bombing, it rapidly became evident that there were only dead bodies to be found. The dogs became visibly depressed when there were no “Live Rescues” The handlers had to stage at least one live rescue at the end of the day, so the dogs could go to sleep at night and resume work the next day. The same thing happened at the World Trade Center.
I thought so too.
Your picture has so much raw emotion in it. So much intensity. Thank you for posting it, afraidfortherepublic.
Joe, would you please put me on the doggie ping list?
We adopted our dog from a shelter—she’d been rescued from a man in Montreal who was a hoarder and had thirty dogs. When we got her, she was so terrified—if we came anywhere near her food bowl, she would run away. She was so undernourished she had no fur on her belly.
Well, she’s fine now, she eats well :). But anything new, like going to the vet or even riding in the car, she trembles.
Dogs are amazing companions and I’m sure they bring comfort to the troops, but of course, with their intelligence, they must also be at risk of being traumatized.
That picture so emotional; you can see the connection.
They had an episode of Pet Heroes (on Canadian Discovery Channel)—in WWII, there was a dog who was adopted by a contingent of soldiers; he quickly learned what grenades were—watching the men throw them as far away as possible (when the grenades were thrown at them).
During one firefight, the soldiers were injured and another grenade was thrown at them. But they were incapacitated and couldn’t reach it.
So the dog—I think his name was Boomer?—grabbed the grenade in his mouth and ran as far away as he could before it exploded.
He received a post-humous (hope I spelled that right) award from the military.
Dogs must bring the troops great comfort.
Now people are worrying about dog PTSD, but when human combat veterans suffer from PTSD and fall into addictions or despair they’re called bums.
Patience is key (along with major amounts of daily exercise and training)....but always patience....
Our 3 shepherds are all rescues, and all came with their own “emotional baggage”. The oldest is 14 and she still has “issues”.
What is strange to me is that these folks are just now figuring out that these battlefield traumas have an effect on the participating dogs. Anyone who has adopted an abused or neglected dog knows exactly what I mean - different circumstances, same kind of problems.
Thanks, algernompj, for the link.
Rather an interesting story, not just for this war dog story, nor just for the family of a fallen Marine.
Makes me wonder, does the Lackland AFB animal hospital have a kind of mutual healing program for both our soldiers and canine veterans?
One of our two adopted dogs/companions was a four year old mixed breed Dauchund/some kind of hound. Mildly curious how that sexual feat was accomplished, considering BJ’s size (previous owner named him).
When we adopted him one thing nobody could do, except me for some reason, was touch his hind quarters. He’d snarl and snap at anybody who touched him there.
Over the first few years he grew to tolerate others touching him, but only two years ago did we learn why he did not want to be touched.
The poor guy has arthritis. It hurt to be touched.
Our vet has provided medication which has pretty much worked.
But the sound of thunder . . . an occasional event in San Antonio . . . sends him into extreme distress. But then, so does my occasional hard coughing or sneezing. He’ll instantly get up and leave the room. Otherwise, this guy never lets me out of his sight.
I hadn’t thought of that but maybe so. This thing is a stretch fabric that hooks up with velcro kind of like a horse blanket but tighter.
This is a low-volume list so dont worry!
(Please Freep-mail me if youd like to be on or off the list.)
Thanks for the ping, the OlLine Rebel.
No doubt our canine companions suffer. The loyalty and love doesn’t come for free.
I'd recommend families without young kids. We LOVE our German Shephards! They bark at anyone intruding on they're space. USP, FED Ex, all of them. They are loyal to their families, their yards, and their space.
I think we'll take a dog break after this guy ends up with our others. It's so hard having to put down your buddies.
It's so fun letting him go wild on the 23 turkey flock in our backyard! Watching him do his "patroling", all of it.
Our third dog, it's a tough decision. We'll work it out.