LYMAN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Trained to see for the blind, hear for the deaf, alert their owners who suffer from health problems just to name a few; every day we hear about how dogs are doing remarkable things to improve the lives of people around them.
There is also growing research which shows both service and therapy dogs are very effective at helping people deal with anxiety, stress and depression and more and more Americans are getting dogs for mental health needs.
Thanks to social media, we hear stories all the time about how dogs keeps people going.
That couldn't be more the case for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Experts say a dog's uncanny ability to sense a human's emotions make them so beneficial in connecting with people and give them a sense of purpose.
A car accident left Army veteran and nurse Sean McDonough with devastating injuries including a traumatic brain injury.
The pain and recovery from his injuries along with lack of help from the VA, Sean says was too overwhelming and he tried to take his life.
He survived and received a service dog named Bruno who he says helped save his life. He says the golden doodle helped him go out in public again and interact with people. Sean now helps others suffering from mental health issues get trained service dogs.
An estimated 80 million Americans have pets and numerous doctors are now recognizing the healing power of dogs, even asking their patients if they have a dog at home.
So why are dogs so amazing at helping people in so many different ways?
'Part of that makes them really good for people is that they're used to checking in with authority, they are used to taking action if it needs to be taken,' said Dr. Lindsay Mulski. She is a veterinarian with the South Gorham Animal Hospital.
She says the first known domesticated animal innately play different roles because of their social structure in a pact. Some are hunters, leaders while other are alerting depending on the breed, training and the bond with their owner, 'They like to do what we ask of them they want to please and extremely happy when we see them for emotional support.'
Dr. Mulski says there is a large difference between a therapy dog and a service dog. A service dog is specifically trained for whatever their task A therapy dog often isn't trained or certified, much like an emotional support dog.
McDonough utilizes Bruno to do both provide comfort to patients at the VA and provide a service to help him with his issues.
He started a nonprofit organization to help people interested in getting a service dogs. The website is www.pawsitivedognosis.com and all the resources and services provided by the non-profit organization are free of charge.