Specially trained dogs from Colo. help combat war veterans

Posted on: 8:41 pm, August 1, 2012, by , updated on: 08:50pm, August 1, 2012

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — It was called the Tet offensive. A surprise attack by the Viet Cong in 1968. It was an infamous, bloody battle, and 101st airborne paratrooper Dan Johnson was there.

Now, Dan Johnson is here. He lives in Lakewood. His battle scars are not visible. “Trauma, for a year and not knowing when the next round might come in or whatever. That has a tendency to put you on edge.”

Since Vietnam, Johnson has had issues in coping with everyday life.”At times I found myself, off and on, being very anxious.”

There is no magic cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but the last thing that Dan Johnson thought would help him would be a dog.

Erin Leeper, from Freedom Service Dogs, says there is just something very positive and healing about a canine. “Dogs have this magic ability of doing things for people that we don’t really have anything to do with.”

Dogs at Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood are trained as guide dogs, rescue dogs, physical therapy dogs, and companion dogs. It takes about nine months to complete training at a cost of around $25,000.

Dan Johnson has had his companion dog, Knuckles, for four months now and has noticed a difference in his everyday attitude in life.

Johnson still has PTSD, and always will. But now it’s a little easier to get through some of those tough moments. All thanks to a dog.