Local injured veterans are getting an extra hand---or a paw, from companion dogs.
Canine Companions for Independence in Oceanside trains dogs to learn how to focus and listen to commands in public places where there may be distractions. Companion dogs are taught 45 different commands, including turning the lights on and off, opening and closing doors and picking up things.
While the dogs are not specifically trained to help with PTSD or other mental health needs, they do make a difference in the veteran’s life.
“Having a dog lowers your blood pressure,” said Becky Miller, an instructor at Canine Companions for Independance. “It relaxes you, it gives you something to rely on, something to wake up in the morning and go out and feed and walk and it makes you have a better outlook on life just by being there.”
Miller says that these dogs are a battle buddy for veterans.
“These dogs become their best friend. They are their partner, the other battle buddy right there by their side and watching that connection build is really, really amazing,” Miller said.
Canine Companions for Independence has been training service dogs for more than 40 years.
Miller told NBC 7 the organization is always looking for foster parents for their service dogs.