Lending A Helping Paw

Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 8:59am

Therapy dogs help soldiers cope with PTSD.

By day, Bob Lander runs a cabin rental and spa, but his passion is dogs.

Now he is using this passion to jump-start another passion.

"The more I've gotten into the issue, the stronger my drive is," Lander says about his newest project. "It means a lot to me to be able to help our local veterans."

Lander never served in the military, but he watched his dad deal with post-traumatic stress for years.

Now he's training his own dog, Ozzie, and his newest acquisition, a young black Labrador retriever, as his first Battle Buddies -- service dogs for veterans.

"A lot of veterans have a hard time dealing with things of public appearance or being out in large crowds," Lander says.

The purpose of a Battle Buddy dog is to provide space for the veteran, to help with panic attacks, and to do what all dogs do: make them smile.

Lander hopes to match up three to five Battle Buddies a year with vets in the Blairsville, Georgia area.

"We're not striving to be some big national organization," he says. "We want to help our community."

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