This Able Veteran, an organization formed to train service dogs to help returning veterans with physi-cal and psychological injuries, received a big boost Wednesday in the form of a check for $5,200.
The amount represents proceeds of a partnership between Silkworm and area retailers to create and sell shirts to benefit the nonprofit group led by professional trainer Behesha Doan.
Retailers who sold the shirts are Schnuck’s, Murdale True Value, Cool Spoons, Great Outdoors Co., Marketplace Shell, Extreme K-9 and Little Grassy General Store, all in Carbondale, plus Silkworm, Creekside Veterinary Clinic and Something Sweet, all in Murphysboro, and Dale’s Harley-Davidson in Mount Vernon.
The Small Business Incubator at SIUC provided refreshments for the ceremony; Doan said its staff has helped greatly both with her business, Extreme K-9, and her nonprofit effort.
Doan and volunteer trainers are teaching the dogs to recognize early behaviors that can indicate an impending panic attack or other psychological issue; the dogs learn to intervene with the touch of a paw to remind the vet to take control of the issue with appropriate behaviors.
The dogs also can perform more mundane duties such as opening and closing doors or drawers and retrieving dropped items.
Doan founded This Able Veteran in early 2011, determined to provide service dogs to assist the burgeoning numbers of returning veterans.
“I believe there are wounds inside a human that another human can’t touch,” she said. “Dogs can touch those spots.”
Research shows dogs and humans share a special bond, she said. Her goal is to use that bond for “empowerment, transformation and reclaiming of their lives.”