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7.22.2012

what a dog can do: ptsd service dog fundraising update

Buddha, the service-dog-in-training, is now living permanently with the Brockways. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible.

We've now raised $4,150 towards our $8,000 goal. We are brainstorming ideas on how we can expand our fundraising base. If you have any ideas, please email me. And if you want to donate, please click here.

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Before Jeremy Brockway started working with Buddha, he rarely left his room. Interaction with his family was limited and very difficult. The transformation is astonishing. Here are some updates.

Ashlea, June 11:
Buddha is now living with us! Jeremy wakes up early every morning to walk him, and they spend a lot of time playing and working together in the backyard. This means Jeremy spends a lot more time with the family, which is so wonderful! The boys love Buddha.

Buddha himself is still adjusting to living with us. He was very anxious and fearful at first, and we were concerned. But he is coming around. I am hopeful that we will soon see the impact Buddha will have on our lives.
Jeremy, June 22:
Today, the dog trainer, Beth, came to begin my training with Buddha. It went great, better than I expected. I had been a little worried about Buddha making the adjustment to living with us, and she put all my fears to rest. She said that Buddha just needed a little help in understanding that he needs to apply his training here, as well.

The three of us walked all the way around the block, which I had never done before. Buddha was there for me, pressing on my leg to keep me grounded, the whole way.

Beth said that Buddha and I work very well together, and I am very excited to continue and finish training so he can be certified.

I am so grateful to everyone that made this possible, the overwhelming show of support brings tears to this grizzled leatherneck's eyes. Thank you so much.
Ashlea, July 9:
When Beth, the trainer, came last week, she, Jeremy, and Buddha went to Canadian Tire together. It was the first time they went out to a store. It went well. Jeremy's assignment over the next two weeks is to take Buddha out to a couple more public places.

The past few days have been rough for both Jeremy and Buddha. With it being Canada Day and the 4th of July there have been fireworks, which upset both of them. Buddha is skittish around loud noises and for Jeremy it brings back bad memories of Iraq. But they made it through together. They started going on their walk around the block earlier, when it was more likely to be quiet.

When Jeremy and Buddha arrive home from a walk, Jeremy brings him to the front step and pets him while repeating the command "HOME" three or four times. This is to train Buddha to know where home is so that if Jeremy ever becomes disoriented when they are out, Buddha can lead him back.

We celebrated William's 4th birthday on the July 3. It was the first time that William had a friend over and Jeremy was able to participate in some outside time, our meal, and presents. In the past it was hard for Jeremy to share a meal with us and he did so only occasionally, and in the past, he often wouldn't come out of his room when other people are over. Now thanks to Buddha, Jeremy has been able to eat dinner with us on a regular basis, and he was able to enjoy William's birthday with him. This year we didn't have to have a separate family time and a separate friend time, which really shows us how far we've come.

My hope is building that Jeremy's life will have a greater degree of 'normalcy' than I've previously let myself dream of. Buddha is a great blessing to our whole family!
Ashlea, July 18:
The other day Jeremy told me that Buddha woke him up. He was licking him in the face. He had never done that before. Jeremy knew that Buddha woke him up from a night terror.

They are growing closer as time goes on. It's hard to imagine their bond being stronger than it has been from the start, but Jeremy dotes on Buddha like a proud parent. Jeremy is especially proud of how well Buddha does out in public while wearing his vest. We have taken him out a couple more times to Canadian Tire, one of Jeremy's favorite stores. We also took him to a playground with the kids a few nights ago and to the library today. It's really great to be able to get out as a family.

It's even greater that Buddha's dream training kicked in without any practice whatsoever with Jeremy. Jeremy has never pretended to have a nightmare to show Buddha what its like, but Buddha recognized the behavior and woke Jeremy up. The great thing is that Jeremy can't remember the night terror either, just being licked by Buddha.
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