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Review for Guide Dog Foundation & America's Vet Dogs, Smithtown, NY, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am a 100% disabled veteran who can no longer work due to my service connected injuries. I am missing part of my right leg, my back is broke in four places and I have difficulty walking. At 50 years old I was forced to retire with a 12 year old son. Being able to make his lacrosse games, scouting outings, etc., is very difficult for me due to my injuries and the medications.

VetDogs, which, is a part of the Guide Dog Foundation help Veterans like me by providing mobility service dogs. Essentially my dog is a four legged walker. The Foundation provided me with a dog, trained the dog, and hosted me at their facility for 13 days 24/7. They provided room and board. I had my own bedroom and connected bathroom. They have a chef on duty to cook 3 great meals a day.

During this time they provided instruction on how to command my new dog. My dog is trained to pick items off the ground such as my cane, hat, keys, etc. so I do not have to bend over. the dog provides stability while I am walking with the use of a harness that the foundation provided. The dog will alert and bark if I fall so that others can come to my aid, he steadies me walking up and down stairs, pushes the handicapped buttons to open doors, and braces to keep me from falling. If I fall the dog will let me use the harness to climb up off the floor. While I am home alone, the dog constantly watches me, and helps me walk in my house, when I shower, to make sure I do not fall.

All of this has helped me stay out of a wheel chair and take part in activities that are only limited by pain, and medication. I am able to walk across the field to see my son play lacrosse. Simple things like that, which, would have required a wheel chair, no longer prohibit my participation from my family life.

All of this did not cost me a cent. It was an unbelievable experience. I am so grateful for the difference that they have made in my life. The Veterans Administration pays for my Veterinarian bills, but the foundation can help here also. They provided 3 trainers to 10 disabled Veterans during the instruction. We were taught the commands that the dog was trained with. Each dog was individually trained to each particular Veterans needs and disabilities. The foundation provided travel to malls and local downtown areas for us to practice, as well as on site training facilities.

The Guide Dog Foundation and VetDogs, the Veterans K-9 Corps. made a big difference in my life. My life is now not confined to a wheelchair and sitting at home in front of the TV. My dog has gone on Amtrack with me to go visit my mother from New York to North Carolina, safely; Something I never could have done before. I went with my family to the beach at Montauk and stayed in a hotel for three days with my dog. My dog made sure I could walk down the board walk stairs down to the beach, and didn't fall down any stairs, which, was a frequent event for me, that had threatened to ground me in a wheel chair. Now I can take walk on paths in the woods now, and although I might not be able to be involved with my son's activities as much as I wish; I can at least be there for him. This is so important to a young boy growing up. I cannot put into words all of the things that my Service/Mobility dog has made in my life.

Please support the VetDogs and the Guide Dog Foundation. It makes such a difference in a Veteran's life. Thank you to all the people that helped along the way. The help doesn't stop there either. The foundation continues its support with advice when I need it, medical clinics for my dog, additional training, veterinary care, etc. My dog is only 2 years old now and is continuing to learn new tasks that help me live a more normal life that my Military Injuries have stolen from me.

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Role:  Client Served