On a beautiful day in March I went to a local golf course located in North Carolina. However, this golf outing involved both human and canine activity. A pack of Service Dogs and Service Dogs in training had the chance to get out while their handler played a round of golf.
Each dog was well behaved, attentive to the handler, and able to handle the many distractions that come with a public golf course. The handler, a gentleman named Rick Kaplan, founded Canine Angels in 2011. After a successful career he decided to use his retirement to help returning service members utilize dogs in their physical and psychological recovery.
He has a passion for helping our veterans become independent and engage in their own recovery process. During our game Rick discussed some of his training protocol. Each veteran is expected to attend multiple trainings, regularly engage with the public, and raise awareness. This helps ensure the dog and warrior maintains a quality life.
Many of the dogs in this program did not always have someone invested in the quality of their life. The dogs in this program are rescued from shelters. They are evaluated to see if they have the potential to become a Service Dog. This not only saves the life of the dog but can also save the life of a veteran, since there are often times when psychological injuries can lead to suicide.
If you are interested in a Service Dog through Canine Angels you may want to make some considerations. They work within the Georgetown, SC to Wilmington, NC geographic area. You will need to be able to travel if you are outside this vicinity. You can’t request a certain breed of dog. However, if you have your own dog they may be willing to train it for service work.
Finally, the training process does involve interaction with the public. My personal recommendation is to ensure you are willing to engage with the general public before you begin training. Additional information on Canine Angels can be obtained at http://canineangelsusa.org.