A critical care nurse and veteran’s daughter named Meribeth Russell started Freedom Dogs in 2006.
Russell got the idea when she participated in a hospital study that found obese children who were able to bond with a therapy dog had an easier time losing weight.
Russell decided to translate that study into something that could help the disabled veterans returning from Iraq. She pleaded with the leadership at Camp Pendleton to let her try a pilot program with dogs and Marines.
By 2008, the commandant at Pendleton was so impressed with Russell’s results that Freedom Dogs became a permanent fixture at Camp Pendleton.
When I spoke with Russell, she explained that Freedom Dogs is different from other programs that match service dogs with troops suffering from PTSD. That’s because the ultimate goal of Freedom Dogs isn’t to match dogs with service members. Rather, it’s to help reintegrate Marines sidelined by PTSD back into civilian society. A full 70 percent of graduates from Freedom Dogs don’t request a canine companion when they leave.
Carlos and Logan turned out to be the exception to the rule.
Later today, "Even the Devil Can't Fool a Dog" - Part 8
(Read the previous installment of “Even the Devil Can’t Fool a Dog” by clicking here.)