Dogs have a long history of combat service in the military — they were first officially used by the U.S. in World War II.
The military’s working dogs are trained at their own school at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The dogs have been trained as sentries, to sniff for drugs, or simply catch bad guys while working with military police. And you can’t forget the military working dogs sniffing out bombs with Navy explosive ordnance disposal teams.
So it comes as no surprise that the dog pictured at right is serving sailors off the battlefield. “Admiral” is not a military working dog, but a pet therapy dog. He is the newest canine helping patients recover at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va.
NMCP has 10 dogs in its pet therapy program, said Emily Silvia, who works with the program. The dogs visit patients at NMCP, making the rounds in the emergency room waiting area, the pediatric unit and Patriots’ Inn, the wounded warrior facility.
“Many patients have a hard time expressing emotion and pain, and the dogs help them express these emotions,” Silvia said.
A Navy news release said that Admiral’s owners — Lts. Joyce and Gregory Hall, who are doing their residencies at NMCP — got him with the intent to raise him as a therapy dog. “We worked in Bethesda and had a lot of contact with the wounded warriors there,” Gregory Hall said in the release. “We saw the benefits of pet therapy, so when the time came to get a dog we chose Admiral to be a pet therapy dog so he would have the ability to see our patients or anybody else’s patients.”
Do you have your own story of a pet helping you or a friend heal? Have you seen dogs make a difference for a wounded warrior? Share your story below.