More than a dozen service animals are paired with veterans for support

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For the last two years, Laura Taylor and her family have taken in yellow lab, Barb and trained her to, one day, become a service dog for a veteran.

“This was more than just a one-time care package. This was something that was going to change someone’s life forever,” explained puppy parent for Warrior Canine Connection, Laura Taylor.

That day came Saturday morning in front of hundreds during the Warrior Canine Connection Class of 2018 Graduation.

“We place service dogs with wounded veterans. In total, Warrior Canine Connection has placed over 60 dogs at this point with wounded veterans and military families,” said director of development for Warrior Canine Connection, Jennifer Wilder.

The non-profit organization celebrated the graduation of 14 service dogs, including Barb and her new handler, military police corps veteran, Sandy Wilson. Barb was paired with Wilson in August, but today marks the transition from one family to another. 

“I was so happy to meet Barb’s puppy parents. They have given me a new life and I am so grateful,” explained U.S. Army veteran, Sandy Wilson.

Before these dogs make it onto the stage for graduation, they attend weekly trainings with their puppy parents and trainers to learn basic commands, but these dogs are also trained to be placed with veterans struggling with some invisible wounds.

“We’re seeing more of those placements with folks who have psychological injuries, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. So we do train our dogs to recognize those stress cues,” Wilder said.

And Barb is up to the task.

“I have anxiety about being in public…And then [Barb will] poke me with her nose, or she’ll jump in my lap and I have to forget about what it was I was thinking and look down at her and say ‘Yes Barb, what is it?’ and then pretty soon I’m out of whatever place I was at,” Wilson said.

Warrior Canine Connection has previously hosted five other graduation ceremonies. For more information visit https://warriorcanineconnection.org/

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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