A Redmond veteran dealing with numerous health issues has a valuable new canine assistant, thanks to some national programs.
Mindy Doughtery, 42, deals with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic regional pain syndrome, a neurological condition that can cause severe burning and make walking difficult, she said.
“It’s known as the suicide disease, I have a mission to find a cure for this disease,” she said at a March 30 “welcome home” event for Doc at Redmond’s Stack Park.
But Doughtery primarily got Doc, a white pointer mix with black spots, because she also suffers from hypoglycemia unawareness, a complication of diabetes that causes her body to not warn her of a major drop in blood sugar. Doc was trained by Trisha Antonelli with Florida-based Dawg Phonics to warn Doughtery of blood-sugar changes, as well as to provide other comfort.
“Just this morning, (Doughtery) said her leg hurt really bad, he automatically went to her and laid down,” Antonelli said. “Dogs really help all my veterans get out of their own head.”
Doc is the ninth service dog Antonelli has trained. She said the difference in the person who receives the dog is night and day.
“They make ’em so happy,” she said. “(Doughtery) hasn’t stopped smiling since she’s had him, which is amazing.”
The long process of working with Doc started when he was a puppy, but doesn’t end when he is turned over to Doughtery, Antonelli said.
“Even though I did the hard work, there is still going to be bonding,” she said. “He’s still learning a lot from her. They still have to mesh well.”
Doughtery was in the Army from 1995-99, serving as a combat medic in locations including Bosnia, Croatia and Hungary, she said. She started Feed My City, an organization that encourages people to grow and share produce. She is also the author of “Mindy’s Fight,” a book that details her struggles dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It was her book publisher who contacted LaVonne Bower, the founder of Paws and Warriors, which is also based in Bradenton, Florida. Bower’s group raises money to help pay to train rescue dogs to become service dogs for veterans. Bower said that, typically, costs between $25,000 and $30,000.
With the help of sponsors like CBD maker Warfighter Hemp, Bower was able to connect Doc to Doughtery. She said the dog’s previous owners couldn’t keep him because of allergies.
“Somebody reached out to me because they heard about what I do, and said that Doc is a great dog,” Bower said, “and that instead of returning him to a shelter, it would be great to unite him with a veteran.”
Bower has traveled across the U.S. and to Canada to help unite service dogs with veterans, though Doc is the first diabetes awareness dog Paws and Warriors has provided to a veteran. The experience is always rewarding.
“We’re so proud of Mindy and what she wants to do,” Bower said. “A shelter dog is not ‘fixing’ her. The whole purpose behind a shelter dog is to be a tool of support and to give her confidence to do what she wants to do.”
Doughtery looks forward to her life with Doc, who replaces a previous service dog that was poisoned at a dog park, she said.
“I’m very excited to have him,” she said. “He’s, basically, saving my life.”
— Reporter: 541-548-2186, firstname.lastname@example.org