Stiggy’s Dogs, is a non profit organization based out of Michigan, that trains rescued dogs to become service dogs for veterans. According to Stiggy’s, studies have shown that 1 in 8 soldiers returning from the middle east today will suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies also show that 82% of PTSD patients, who have been provided with a service dog, have seen an decrease in those symptoms.
"We are losing the fight," said Marine Veteran Terrance McGlade. "Because as of right now, when I last looked, twenty-two veterans a day are killing themselves, because of post traumatic stress disorder. "
Also known as PTSD, effects veterans personalities by causing feelings of depression, anxiety and detachment, making it difficult to return back to their lives. Born and raised in Zanesville, marine veteran Terrance McGlade is one of those soldiers, who was injured by a road side bomb in Afghanistan in 2010.
"I took a little bit of shrapnel metal in my right knee and then I actually have a traumatic brain injury," McGlade said.
The brain injury has affected his short term memory, causing him to forget most of his childhood and daily tasks all while he battles PTSD. The disorder causes him to have a short temper or full blown panic attacks, which qualified him for a service dog, named Major.
"And there are certain tasks that he is designed to do, like if I get in an area where I will start getting anxious, he is actually trained to pull me out of that area. He is trained, when I enter my house, he will actually go flip on light switches for me. If I leave one open, he will lay down right there, to let me know you need to come shut the door or window."
Major was rescued by Stiggy’s Dogs from a hoarding situation near Detroit and then was trained to be a service dog. What a lot of people do not know about service dogs, is the difference between when they are on duty and off duty. When Majors wearing the vest, you cannot pet him. But the second the vest comes off, Major’s just like any other dog.
Through behavioral assessments a trainer deciphers the dogs aggression.
"I wanted a mellow dog, because I have a mellow, laid back personality and I didn’t want a really hyper rambunctious dog, that are personalities that may clash."
Major will celebrate his one year anniversary as McGlade’s best friend this month.
Stiggy’s Dogs was established in honor of a fallen navy sailor who dedicated his life to improving the physical and emotional health of those serving. Navy men provide medical care to marines, who McGlade says put their trust in, because they are the people providing the first line of care and piecing them back together. For more information visit stiggysdogs.org