Having made it via Dallas to Columbia, South Carolina, I visited Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS) where I met Maureen, an incredibly caring and wise person who also trains assistance dogs! But that’s only a small part of her role, she trains people to continue that training with their service dogs and supports them throughout which is where the real talent lies. It is one thing for a dog trainer to train a dog but to help a person with PTSD to carry on that training and be there to guide and support is quite another. Maureen is affectionately known as ‘Nana’ to some of the clients who receive dogs. It is a reflection of the respect they have for her, she is both gentle and insistent and her experience in life has enabled her to dispense ‘sage like’ wisdom, when it is required with the selfless goal of helping that individual achieve success with their service dog.
I met one of PAALS clients who received a service dog to help him with PTSD. Will Rogers is a veteran who had little doubt that he would become another statistic, one of the 22 PTSD suicides every day in the USA, following a harrowing tour of duty in Afghanistan. His life changed when he was partnered with RC, a loveable black labrador from PAALS.
Here is his story so far:
It was a real honour to speak with Will and learn how important and life changing RC is to him. Like a lot of veterans, he want’s to help other veterans and is considering challenges that he can do with RC to raise funds so that more heroes in South Carolina can get the help that these dogs can provide.
PAALS was started by Jen Rogers who was like a ‘whirling dervish’ of activity when I met her and no wonder, she is a ‘super busy’ lady who was organising (among a thousand other things) PAALS’s imminent move to a superb new location courtesy of a legion of supporters and fundraisers. Although impossibly busy she was obviously relishing helping to make such profound differences to people’s lives, PAALS’s Patriot Programme is a relatively new addition to their extensive programme but, as Will and others will testify, it is a life changer, and that might explain her incredible drive, passion and joy for the work that she and her team does.