Paul served a full career in the British Army for 24 years. However, as a result of his experiences, Paul was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He was left very unwell because of this and found himself off work for a prolonged period before undergoing treatment with Combat Stress, a charity dedicated to helping former service men and women deal with mental health difficulties. It was during his treatment at the charity where Paul discovered Veterans with Dogs and how our work with dogs helps improve quality of life.
After being advised about us by his Occupational Therapist at Combat Stress, Paul researched our charity and decided to get in touch. Prior to applying for our programme, Paul and his family had just recently adopted Holly, a one-year-old Springer Spaniel from a local farm. He reached out to our team to see if Holly could become his own Assistance Dog and after discussion, our experienced trainers agreed that Holly would make a great candidate and so then, Paul and Holly began their training.
After two years dedication, from attending regular training sessions and residential stays, Paul and Holly passed their training and graduated from our PALS Programme. Holly, who is now 3 years old, is a fully trained Assistance Dog and plays a major part in Paul’s life. Holly reminds Paul to take his medication every single day. She is also trained to recognise when Paul is having a nightmare and will wake him up from his dream by simply letting him know she is present. If Paul ever zones out during a flash back episode, Holly is trained to keep Paul grounded and bring him back to the present.
Paul is now back to work with Alpha, his employer who he mentions treated him very well whilst he was off work undergoing his treatment. They allow Holly to go to work with Paul every day and she even stays in hotels with him while he is on the road. Having Holly with him whilst at work really helps Paul remain grounded and knowing she is not far away is very comforting for him.
“Holly has completely changed my life. If it wasn’t for Holly and her training I wouldn’t be working now and, it sounds extreme, but I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
This year, Paul’s employers Alpha announced their sponsorship of European Tour golfer Jack Senior. With Paul’s experience with Veterans with Dogs, we are a charity close to their hearts and it was decided that they would make a donation to us for every birdie and eagle that Jack scored in each tournament that he played. We are so incredibly thankful to Paul and his colleagues at Alpha for their amazing support and the funds they raised during what has been an incredibly challenging year.