One of the most rewarding parts about working at Flagology is hearing all of our customers’ amazing stories. During a contest we ran this past Holiday season we came across a truly amazing organization and are honored to share this organization with you!
As you all probably know by now, at Flagology we love dogs. They are amazing creatures that are able to connect with humans in impactful ways that are truly beyond words. It is this sentiment that motivated Susan Bolton and Julie Drexel, founders of Patriot Service Dogs, a 501c3 non-profit organization.
After working with other groups that trained dogs for disabled individuals, Susan and Julie felt the need to create an organization whose purpose would be to focused solely on supporting the needs of veterans. Based out of Jacksonville, Florida, the organization that they created, Patriot Service Dogs, places trained service dogs with veterans who have mobility-related disabilities or PTSD.
Raising and training a dog for Patriot Service Dogs is an intensive process. To start, the organization depends on donations to acquire puppies. Typically the dogs are retriever breeds like Labradors or Golden Retrievers, as they are skilled in many tasks required for service dogs. The organization trains on average 12-18 dogs at any given time, each dog being placed in the home of a volunteer. The puppies start their training at just 8-12 weeks old, and by the time they are two years old they have learned up to 80 commands/tasks!
Once the dogs are fully trained, Patriot Service Dogs takes time to carefully match the skills and abilities of a service dog with the needs of a specific veteran. Some of the skills that the service dogs learn include: opening doors or drawers, turning on lights, and helping to brace and balance. For veterans with PTSD, the service dogs have been trained to help create physical boundaries, or assist them with leaving situations where they may be overwhelmed.
In 2013, Patriot Service Dogs decided to add another facet to their already incredible program, and extended its training program to Lowell Women’s Prison in Ocala, FL. Inmates who have at least 2 years left on their sentence are selected to participate in the “W.O.O.F.” program (Women Offering Obedience & Friendship.) They are given the responsibility of raising and training rescue dogs in basic obedience skills. Not only do the inmates learn valuable job skills, but they experience their hard work and dedication to these rescue pups paying off! The program has achieved some wonderful results: all of the WOOF graduates who have been released from prison, have found jobs and have not gone back to the prison system. Both parts of this program offer rehabilitation for both the inmates and the rescue dogs and service dog puppies, and the end result is truly inspirational!
If you feel as drawn to this special organization as we do, take the time to learn more about it and what you can do to help by visiting their website or their Facebook page. They are currently looking for help in two areas: event donations and fundraising, and puppy sponsorships. Yes, you can sponsor a puppy in training! Contact Patriot Service Dogs directly for more information.
Is there an organization that you hold dear to your heart? We would love to hear about it! Email us and we might just feature it in our next blog!