September is National Service Dog Month. It is a time for raising awareness and showing appreciation for the extraordinary work service dogs do every day.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are honoring Julian King and his beloved service dog, Mocha, this month for their dedication to the community of Coos Bay, Oregon. Over the past nine years, the pair has visited just about every hospice and senior living facility in the area.
Finding A Purpose After Retirement
King is a veteran of the United States Army and the National Guard. After his retirement, he found himself in the VA hospital, where he was visited by several service dogs. The comforting pups inspired him to seek out his own pooch once he was released.
“I needed something to help me get back into the swing of life in the civilian world,” King told KMTR News.
That “something” came in the form of an adorable 7-week-old Lab puppy. King and Mocha have been inseparable ever since. They were soon asked to join the Furry Friends Therapy Dog Organization, where Mocha received her service training.
“Doing all of this is kind of like paying it forward but also paying it all back,” King says, “for the times that somebody shared their therapy dog with me.”
Making A Difference, One Community Member At A Time
At Furry Friends Therapy Dogs, volunteers and their certified therapy dogs visit local schools and health care facilities. According to their website:
It has long been demonstrated that the comforting interaction between animals, dogs in particular, and humans have lessened, and even alleviated, some of the many afflictions associated with aging, depression, poor health, hospital stays or confinement. It is our belief that even brief visits and contact with gentle dogs have actually contributed to the mental well being of many individuals.
While visits have become more difficult over the past 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, King and Mocha are determined to serve their community any way they can. After all, King knows firsthand just how healing the touch of a therapy dog can be.
“When she goes to visit her people, when she’s in there they are much less stressed. Everybody wants to pet her and it’s just a soothing feeling to feel a nice dog, and one that’s going to behave. They get relaxed.”
Veterans And Dogs—A Perfect Combination
Throughout September, the VFW is recognizing all veterans who are still serving their local communities. If you are a veteran and have a story that includes a service dog, working dog, therapy dog or emotional support dog, the VFW wants to hear about it!
At iHeartDogs, we believe veterans and dogs belong together. That’s why we have helped raise $606.308 and counting to help pair veterans with their own companion dogs. Learn more about our Pets & Vets program and how you can help.
H/T & Featured Image via KMTR News