Community in Action

Community in Action

The saying, “It takes a village” is definitely true for Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF). All of you are an important part of our SBF community, and we thank you for everything you do to support our veterans and their canine partners. As we celebrate the end of 2017 and begin a new year, we honor the many segments of our SBF community: veteran/dog teams, volunteers, fosters, shelter/rescue partners, donors, sponsors, strategic partners and supporters, Eagle Scouts, media connections, neighbors, board members, trainers and staff. Each and every one of you have had a vital part in helping Soldier’s Best Friend grow and thrive.

So far this year, 46 teams have graduated the program. Because of your support, whether it be financial or through your hard work, 195 veteran/dog teams have successfully graduated from our service/therapeutic companion dog training program since our beginning in 2011. With one more group graduating mid-December, we are on track to reach the next milestone of 200 graduate teams by the end of this year. These success stories are only possible because of you and our hard working, dedicated veteran/dog teams.

Thank you to our shelter/rescue partners who help identify dogs that may be good candidates for our training program, allowing us to adopt and place them into loving homes. Working side by side with their veteran partner, these dogs have a chance for a new life in a loving home and a very important job. We truly appreciate your commitment and partnership.

Thank you to our fosters who bring newly adopted dogs into their homes and care for them. Your work to help these dogs transition and prepare them to be paired with their veteran partner is crucial to the success of the veteran/dog team. It takes special people who are able to welcome one of these amazing animals into their home, love and care for it, and then let the dog go so he or she can become part of a forever family. Thank goodness there are incredible people like you who can.

Thank you to our donors, sponsors, event participants and grant makers who have consistently supported our veteran/dog teams financially. We wouldn’t be able to provide this life-changing program at no cost to our veterans without your support. We can’t thank you enough  for the generous gifts you entrust to us that provide the training, equipment, veterinary care and support these teams need to be successful.

Thank you to our hard working volunteers, Eagle Scouts, strategic partners and others who give of their time, talent, tangible gifts and connections to help take care of our campus, support us at events and all the millions of tasks we ask of you to help us get things done. You are all generous and amazing people.

Thank you to our friends in the media who tell our story to help spread the word about Soldier’s Best Friend and the work we do to help combat veterans and Arizona homeless dogs. It is vitally important we increase community awareness. Thank you for helping us do that.

Thank you to our board members who use their experience and leadership to guide Soldier’s Best Friend into the future. Your dedication to making informed, thoughtful decisions is critical to the health of our nonprofit.

Thank you to our trainers and staff who tirelessly commit themselves to the work of training our veteran/dog teams and making Soldier’s Best Friend the successful nonprofit it is today. You are the boots on the ground making sure we complete our mission.

And of course, thank you to our veterans. You are the reason Soldier’s Best Friend exists. Thank you for your service. Thank you for the sacrifices you and your families made to protect our freedom. Thank you for your commitment to training; for sticking with it through the challenges to achieve the final goal of having a trained service dog. Everyone in our SBF community supports you because it is our hope that having your trained service dog by your side makes it easier for you to live your life now that you are home.

Our program can have a meaningful impact on many lives: those of our returning veterans, their families and also the homeless dogs who become their canine partners. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who supports our mission. Together, we are a community that works to help veterans and Arizona homeless dogs. Together, we truly are touching two lives at once.

Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day

On this day of remembrance and gratitude, we celebrate the men and women who have bravely served our nation and fought to maintain our freedoms. For some the fight continues, long after they return home. We encourage everyone to be aware of the internal battles that veterans may face. Today, and everyday, we thank all veterans for your service, courage, and strength.

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July

We are the Land of the Free Because of the Brave

Today we celebrate the historic day we declared independence from Great Britain. While it is easy to get carried away by the excitement of all that is taking place, let’s remember the veterans and active military members who find it a little harder to cope with their symptoms of PTSD around Independence Day. Please keep these men and women in mind when setting off fireworks into the night sky as the piercing noise and bright flashes of light can be a trigger for unwelcome memories, intrusive images and flashbacks. It has been noted that not all veterans with PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries are affected by fireworks; however, for some it takes them right back to their defensive position in the middle of a mental battlefield. As we all look forward to the Fourth of July, let us not forget to remember those who fought and sacrificed so much of themselves for the freedoms we celebrate.

In addition to taking the time to think of our past and present military members this Fourth of July, please keep your pets in mind as well. The Fourth of July is a difficult time for a lot of pets as the roaring fireworks from near and far send some pets into a terrified frenzy. “Animal control officials across the country see a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th. In fact, July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for shelters” (PetAmberAlert, 2016).

PetAmberAlert suggests these quick tips to ensure your pets stay safe and sound this Fourth of July:

 

1) Stay inside: Try to keep your pet indoors at all times during holiday
celebrations. Ideally, someone stays home with your pet. Also keep
your dog leashed when going out for walks.

2) Make them feel safe: Comfort your pets with petting, hugging, talking
to them in a soothing voice, providing a treat and staying nearby if
possible. Make sure they can access their crate or “safe place.” Also
ask your veterinarian or local pet retailer about natural calming
products, anxiety wraps and other products that can help.

3) Avoid the noise. Try to drown out the fireworks sounds as much as
possible by closing windows, playing music or turning on the TV.

4) Act normal! Your pet takes cues from your and your family’s actions. It will help if you go about your normal routine as much as possible, talking and playing with your pet as usual.

5) Protect your pet before the fireworks begin. There are a number of lost-pet devices and services available today, and it’s wise to be proactive in case your pet gets lost.

Be sure to check the American Veterinary Medical Association for more tips to make sure you and your pet have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

June is PTSD Awareness Month

June is PTSD Awareness Month

“PTSD: It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person.” -Unknown

Did you know June is PTSD Awareness Month? It is important to continually raise awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) so that people facing this harsh, personal battle do not have to fight it alone. Here at Soldier’s Best Friend we acknowledge the devastating effects of war on our military members and are dedicated to helping combat veterans reduce their symptoms by pairing them with trained Service or Therapeutic Companion Dogs.


What are the symptoms of PTSD? (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD, but they may not be exactly the same for everyone. Each person experiences symptoms in their own way.

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  3. Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly).

If you think you may be living with PTSD, you can visit The National Center for PTSD to complete a self-screen of your symptoms. Completing this self-screen does not necessarily mean you have PTSD, as some symptoms can also be linked with depression and other issues. Because this self-screen test serves as a small scope of the issues some may face when living with PTSD, visiting with a mental health care professional can be paramount to addressing your symptoms effectively and embarking on a course of appropriate treatment for you.

If you are an Arizona veteran or active-duty member who has a confirmed diagnosis of combat-related PTSD, we encourage you to take the next step and request an application for our program. Eligible out-of-state veterans may also apply, if they are able to make the time commitment for training (average 6-9 months). Soldier’s Best Friend is dedicated to serving those who served us by pairing them with service or therapeutic companion dogs to help them reduce their PTSD symptoms and readjust to civilian life.

Whether you have or have not been personally affected by the challenges that exist for those living with PTSD, it is clear that it is a daily battle that cannot be overcome without the help and service of generous people. If you feel compelled to donate as a way of helping reach more veterans living with this debilitating mental health problem, there are many options available to touch two lives at once through Soldier’s Best Friend. You can donate your time by becoming a volunteer, a foster parent for our rescued shelter dogs patiently waiting to serve their veteran or you can make a donation to support veteran and dog teams. For more opportunities to give back to veterans living with PTSD you can visit the ‘Donate’ tab at the top of the page.

Save the Date

Save the Date

Soldier’s Best Friend 7th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

at The Legend at Arrowhead

 November 18th 2017  |  21027 North 67th Avenue  |  Glendale, AZ 85308  |  Registration 6:30 – 7:45am  |  Shotgun Start 8:00am  |  Tournament Ends 2:00pm

A goal for Soldier’s Best Friend is to involve the community in our mission to serve, pair, and train veterans living with combat-related PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury with homeless Arizona dogs at no cost to the veteran. Events, such as our annual Golf Tournament, directly benefit veteran/dog teams as the proceeds help support the cost of training, equipment, veterinary bills, and much more. We can assure you will have a great time on the green while simultaneously helping touch two lives at once.

Sponsorship opportunities are available here.

Player registration open soon! Once registration opens, be sure to take advantage of our early bird price and save $10 until September 15. Golf fee includes practice balls, golf, cart, and lunch.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time for the country to pause and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our nation’s freedom. As we take pause, we should also reflect on the service men and women who have returned home, but remain in a battle with their wounds of war. Soldier’s Best Friend is committed to serving these veterans by providing them a service dog to help lessen their symptoms of combat-related PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury.

The most recent suicide data report from the VA (August 2016) states that an average of 20 veterans take their lives each and every day. One is too many; 20 each day is intolerable. Memorial Day can be a stressful time for some veterans. It’s a time to remember the fallen; for our veterans that is often a very personal loss. For some, it means reliving horrible memories. We hear from the veterans in our program, that some experience an increase in their symptoms around certain holidays. Memorial Day is one of those.

If you or a veteran you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, contact the Veteran Crisis Line for help. They provide confidential, round-the-clock support with trained and experienced responders.

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1
https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

It’s important for people to know that while our returning military heroes aren’t in a battle zone anymore, many are still battling a dangerous fight every day. Please help share information about Soldier’s Best Friend so that we can continue to provide this life-changing program to veterans at no cost to them.

Thank You Petco Foundation

Thank You Petco Foundation

Soldier’s Best Friend would like to sincerely thank the Petco Foundation for their steadfast support of our service/therapeutic companion dog training program. We have been fortunate to be awarded several Helping Heroes grants from the Petco Foundation in the past few years to support our program. This has provided training, equipment, veterinary care and support for dogs we have adopted and veteran/dog teams who work very hard to master the skills they need to be a successful team.

A heartfelt thank you to all the kind people at Petco Foundation for helping us help Arizona homeless dogs and veterans. You are making an impact on many lives.

Thank you!

Thank you!

Thank you for registering! Our 6th annual Sporting Clay event is scheduled for Saturday, March 25, 2017. Registration is currently closed.

Soldier’s Best Friend 6th Annual Sporting Clay Event
Saturday, March 25, 2017 | 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Ben Avery Clay Target Center | Phoenix, AZ
Registration includes:
50 clay pigeons
50 shotgun shells
Lunch
T-shirt

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and yours a safe and Happy Holiday!

As we near the end of 2016, we think back on all the wonderful things this year brought to Soldier’s Best Friend. Through the incredible support of many of you, a new state-of-the-art training campus is home to many of our veteran/dog teams as they learn the ins and outs of becoming qualified for service dog status. We are so thankful to The Dorrance Family Foundation for their generous matching gift challenge grant that was key to raising the needed funding to complete construction. Many other foundations, civic groups, American Legions, other veteran groups, businesses, families and individuals contributed their gifts to help meet the challenge and make the training campus possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Another milestone this year was reaching the mark of 150 graduates. Congratulations to each and every one of these teams for their dedication to reach this goal. It is a huge commitment taking hours and hours of hard work to be able to pass the Public Access Test and graduate. But it’s so worth it. The stories we hear about the lives changed will warm your heart. One of the projects for 2017 is to add more new testimonials from our graduates so you can hear in their words how your gifts are changing lives.

Our Grand Opening for the new training campus was held on November 3. The weather had been perfect for weeks and, of course, it started raining just as guests were arriving. Thank you to the brave souls who came to be part of this important occasion. We also thank the Glendale Chamber of Commerce who provided a ribbon cutting ceremony. Thanks to the musicians of The New Deal for entertaining us and Babbo’s Catering for providing the delicious food.

Our annual Sporting Clay event and Golf Tournament were both successful this year, raising funds to support teams in our program. Thanks to all the participants, sponsors, volunteers and other supporters who had a part in this success. We look forward to hosting both of these events in 2017 and hope you will join us.

There are many more wonderful things that came our way this year and, if you were a part of it, we thank you. We recognize how fortunate we are to have such dedicated volunteers, donors, trainers, sponsors and supporters. You are critical to the success story. Whether you know if or not, you are making a lasting impact in many lives. So during this holiday season of celebration, we celebrate you, and wish you all the best for a happy holiday.

Golf Tournament Wrap-up

Golf Tournament Wrap-up

golf1_webSaturday, December 3, was a chilly morning for over 100 golfers who came out to Grand Canyon University Golf Course to play in our 6th annual tournament. We were honored to have the Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard onsite for a touching presentation of the flags. Shortly afterward the golfers took off in their carts for 18 holes of fun.

Adding challenge (and fun) to the course were the Putts 4 Privileges golf ball cannon, Dixon Golf drive challenge and a putting green contest. Putts 4 Privileges set up a golf cannon that players could use to shoot their ball to the green. This challenge raised funds for both Soldier’s Best Friend and The First Tee of Phoenix, a youth development organization that introduces the game of golf and its inherent values to young people. Not only was it a great fundraiser, but it was exciting to try. Dixon Golf set up on two separate holes giving golfers a different experience to challenge their skills. Thanks to the Heels for Combat ladies who volunteered to run the putting green contest. They added a unique to this year’s putting contest.

After finishing the course, golfers came back to the GCU clubhouse for a delicious Italian lunch and prize announcements. Thank you to our generous sponsors for supporting the tournament, all the volunteers who gave their time to help run the tournament, the golfers who played that day and GCU Golf Course for hosting us at their recently renovated course. Players told us the course was spectacular. A special “thank you” to Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation | The Parker Team for coming on board as this year’s title sponsor, as well as providing great goodie bags for each player.

Watch for an announcement of next year’s tournament. We look forward to seeing you there!

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