BUTTE — Mickey is not just a good pet to military veteran David Burns, she’s also a lifesaver: “She also monitors me when I’m sleeping, if my oxygen comes off, I quit breathing when I’m sleeping, she’ll wake me up when it comes off so that everything’s okay I can put it back on again,” said Burns
Mickey is a trained service dog from the Montana Puppies For Patriots program in Ennis. Representatives did a demonstration at the Butte American Legion Hall recently to talk about how well-trained service dogs can help detect possible physical and mental problems in their human owners and be there to assist them.
“So, they’re able to smell changes in the body, mood changes and able to detect those things and respond to them faster and more efficiently,” said Katrina Boucher.
The program gets dogs when they’re puppies and begins training them to see if they can become good service dogs. They even have young volunteers that work with the dogs when they’re just weeks old.
“Training to walk by the side, and when I open the cage to not go out unless I say, and then sit and down and quiet and she’s still learning roll over,” said 8-year-old Mercedes Manley.
The program gives free training to dogs that will serve veterans and first responders.
“We want veterans, first responders, and medical workers to stay alive and keep doing what they’re doing. They’re very important people in our community, so we need them,” said Boucher.
Suicide is a major problem among veterans and it’s the mission to do what they can to try to reverse this terrible trend.
“It’s my reason for living and for going on and to see people finally find hope is so powerful, and that’s what we give people, that’s what the dogs give people, actually, is hope,” she said.
For more information, visit the Montana Puppies For Patriots website.