Shelter Dogs One of Many Services for Returning Veterans

3 years 3 weeks 3 days ago November 11, 2013 Nov 11, 2013 Monday, November 11 2013 Monday, November 11, 2013 3:49:00 PM CST in News
By: Lucas Geisler, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - They told her the dog had potential.

Last September, Maureen "Moe" Murphy's task was to train a dog named Whiskey. The lanky dog with black and brown fur ("brindle" as Murphy called it) showed qualities her employer, the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) was looking for in a service dog. But still, he needed the proper training.

"He was always so affectionate, he didn't really like to listen," Murphy said. "I had him for about a week and a half, and then he finally realized, 'She's the one giving me my food, she's the one doing all this stuff with me. I'm going to listen to her.'"

Murphy and Whiskey met through the Veterans and Shelter Dogs program, set up by ReCHAI. Murphy's job is to train dogs, provided by the Central Missouri Humane Society, to work as service animals for veterans. Leaving Whiskey at the Humane Society, though, meant he would still be available for adoption. So Murphy decided to foster him.

"I'm never going to turn away something that's got this much purpose," Murphy said. "I knew we could do amazing things. So I wasn't about to let him go."

Stephanie Lanham, kennel manager at the Central Missouri Humane Society, said the program serves a dual benefit - one to the shelter and one to veterans.

"[ReACHI volunteers] would come in here and help train some of our dogs. If that dog went through the training with them, once it got into a home if it was better behaved, people would be more willing to keep that dog."

"Having a project where you can actually teach a dog something, that creates a huge bond that can't be replaced by a whole lot of other things," Lanham said. "If you're depressed one day, and you go work with your dog for a couple hours, and at the end of that session, they know how to sit, that's a pretty awesome feeling. Anything that gives them good feelings versus bad ones that they're used to having is always a positive thing."

For the veteran with the dog -- Murphy and Whiskey -- the relationship is more than just a dog that can sit and stay on command.

"I'm not the type of person to approach people," Murphy said. "But people want to approach me, and want to ask me questions about him. I would have never gone out to eat by myself. I hated going to the movies by myself. But now, he can go with me. It's still training for him, but it doesn't feel like training. It feels like we're a pair. "

Murphy, a Naval flight deck operator during Operation Enduring Freedom, said dogs help combat the feelings of isolation and troubling memories that typically follow deployment.

"They're always there," Murphy said. "There's no judging. You had something in your past that you might not feel comfortable with, that you might feel sad about. That dog is there, doesn't know any of it, and still trusts you to be there for him. It's this bond, basically, that all the dog has to do is be there."

Steve Wahle of The Mission Continues said, "Everyone always goes through some transition. For some, particularly when you're young and the first four years of your adult life is doing this one very specific thing, you get out and you're very independent. It's sometimes hard to look around and say, 'Hey, I don't know what I'm doing, I need some help.'"

Murphy is a Fellow in The Mission Continues, a non-profit organization based in St. Louis that provides a monetary stipend for veterans interested in serving their community. Applicants for the fellowship must find an organization to work with, and describe why they are passionate about the service the group provides the community. Wahle, a Marine veteran of OEF, works with many of the Fellows in the Midwest, and went through the program himself in 2012.

"It's not a charity, it's a challenge," Wahle said, echoing The Mission Continues' slogan. "The only thing we give Fellows is an opportunity to build something on a foundation. It gave me an opportunity to stand somewhere, and get a lot of perspective before I jumped onto the new thing."

Wahle said coming home can be difficult for many veterans. While some may have an idea of where to go or what to do after their enlistment, others may need help transitioning into society outside the service. Some transitions are obvious, like learning basic office skills such as data entry. Others are subtle, like learning how to interact with someone in the boardroom, not the barracks. That's where the importance of groups like The Mission Continues are best seen.

"These programs are creating a place to kind of get your bearing and move on from there," Wahle said.

In Murphy's opinion, the same applies to the Veterans and Shelter Dogs' program.

"It creates an easy way for veterans to go back into a society that may not understand them. It creates opportunities for the veteran, and the dog, to just re-purpose their lives.

"A lot of veterans feel lost," Murphy said. "When you can feel a little bit less lost, because you're comfortable walking into a place with a dog, or having a bond with a dog, or training, it's just like your back in the military again. You can have a purpose again."

Eventually, when a veteran adopts Whiskey, he and Murphy will part ways. He wont be there to sprawl out on her bed, play with her other dog Aspen, or melt to the ground at her feet.

Murphy said he has a bigger purpose than that.

"His purpose is to create a better life for someone else and that purpose is so much bigger than me."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Residents in the Columbia area will be able to speak their minds Tuesday at a public hearing about... More >>
5 hours ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 2:35:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Two members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, who wished to remain anonymous, told KOMU 8 News Monday night... More >>
8 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 11:33:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS - Governor-elect Eric Greitens' wife Sheena was robbed at gunpoint Monday night. According to KSDK, St. Louis Police... More >>
10 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 9:49:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is seeing an increase in the number of state highway fatalities, and MoDOT is worried it's... More >>
12 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 7:19:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A group of University of Missouri students exceeded everybody's expectations in gift giving this holiday season, and the... More >>
13 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 6:49:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Columbia is looking to cut down on traffic deaths and serious injuries, and is looking to join a... More >>
13 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 6:36:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council voted 5-2 in opposition to an ordinance that would have revised some licensing regulations... More >>
14 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 6:10:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Engineering crews kicked off three months of work on Nifong Blvd. on Monday as part of the road's... More >>
14 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 5:49:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - The fourth annual CoMoGives Campaign has some lofty goals for the 2016 holiday season, hoping to raise more... More >>
17 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 2:19:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia police grew furry faces during a No Shave November fundraiser to benefit a local children's home. ... More >>
18 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 1:59:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — A single-car crash left a Fulton woman dead on Interstate 70 near Highway 40 and the Midway Travel... More >>
18 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 1:53:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A fatal shooting on Interstate 55 in south St. Louis has forced closure of all southbound... More >>
18 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 1:35:24 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis-area businessman and three other men will have a hearing Tuesday in federal court... More >>
18 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 1:24:17 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia police officers arrested Edward Rosson Sunday night after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend while holding a machete... More >>
19 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 1:01:00 PM CST in News
CLAYTON (AP) — A Missouri man is jailed on $500,000 cash bond after being accused of telling co-workers he was... More >>
19 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 12:58:25 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri woman has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and involuntary manslaughter in a... More >>
19 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 12:32:13 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — We are fast-approaching the end of the holiday season and that time of year when some of us... More >>
20 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 12:09:00 PM CST in News
WAYNESVILLE — Pulaski County Sheriff Ronald Long will advise detectives investigating a discovery of an adolescent's remains to close the... More >>
20 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 11:47:16 AM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 32°
9am 35°
10am 37°
11am 39°
12pm 40°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
8:00p
This Is Us
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
No Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld