BOYERTOWN, Pa. — It was a field trip for the Tails of Valor Paws of Honor service dogs in training as they headed to the General Carl Spaatz National USAAF Museum in Boyertown. The outing was one of many for the dogs.
"We are an organization that raises psychiatric service dogs for veterans that have PTSD," said Tracy Hausknecht, program director for Tails of Valor Paws of Honor Inc.
"We need to make sure that our dogs, when they go out with their veterans, they have had over 100 different exposures, learning different things," Hausknecht added, "everything from seeing a garbage truck to going to a fair, going to museums, spending time in a classroom."
The exposures are just part of the training. The dogs also live with a puppy-raiser and attend school essentially four days a week. The goal is to make sure they are well prepared to help veterans with anxiety.
"We need to make sure that our service dog is able to handle any situation and be able to guide their veteran through that," Hausknecht said.
It's a noble cause, according to Marine Corps veteran and dog sitter volunteer Richard Fogel.
"It's very rewarding, and they take care of the veterans," Fogel said.
"We have several of our dogs today that are named after WWII heroes," Hausknecht said.
They included Barney, who is named after Fogel's great-grandfather.
"He went through World War II," said Fogel. "He was instrumental in getting the Navajo Code Talkers into the Marine Corps, which saved many lives."
It's something that some of these service dogs do for the veterans they help.
"I could not stand that 22 veterans a day were committing suicide," Fogel said, "when the dog could definitely help."
You can go to Tails of Valor Paws of Honor's website to learn more about the Lehigh County-based nonprofit organization and how you can donate.