Sam and Forest

Jessica knows that being a mother of a child who is on the autism spectrum comes with unique challenges, especially considering that no two children with autism will have the same challenges. Different things can be obstacles, and different things can help. For Jessica, it seemed like she had tried everything to help her son, Sam. After years of therapy and other programs that had varying degrees of success, she decided to apply for a service dog through Service Dogs of Virginia.

From the first night, she noticed the impact that Forest was going to have on Sam. He immediately knew that Sam was his to help. Now he puts his training to use to comfort Sam whenever he needs it. He defuses situations that would have previously been difficult for Jessica to deal with alone. And Sam has a new companion.

Learn more about the dogs at Service Dogs of Virginia.

Dylan and His PTSD Dog, Ren

As an explosive ordnance technician, Dylan disarmed explosives and weapons in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. That kind of stress can stay with you, and it can become something that drags at your life. As Dylan puts it, he was coming unglued. He sought help, and he found it in the forms of therapy and in a service dog named Ren.

Dylan and Ren are practically attached. Ren goes to work with him. Ren goes to therapy with him. Ren goes everywhere with him. Dylan knows that he could get by with the other therapy and supports he’s put in place for his life, but he also believes it wouldn’t be the same without Ren.

Before Ren, Dylan was surviving. Now he’s thriving.

Learn more about the dogs at Service Dogs of Virginia.

Service Dogs of Virginia

Service Dogs of Virginia operates out of Charlottesville, VA. They train dogs to act as a support and serve as a tool to assist in therapy for people living with PTSD, autism, and more. At any given time, they have volunteers and trainers working with puppies, adolescent dogs, and dogs who are close to placement. The trainers find that some dogs have personalities geared more toward work as PTSD or autism assistance dogs, and some toward work as assist or medic alert dogs.

But finding the right placement for the dogs is only one piece of the puzzle. The dogs also need to be placed with people who are ready for them. Staff, volunteers, and clients of Service Dogs of Virginia all stress the importance of putting yourself in the best possible position for a dog to make an impact before being paired up. The people who receive dogs, especially for things like PTSD and autism, put in hours of therapy and try to grow in other ways to make sure they’re in that position.

Together they form a beautiful relationship where the dog and the person both count on each other.

Learn more about the dogs at Service Dogs of Virginia.