There are almost endless stories of the ways that dogs can help different groups of people in various ways. The benefits of spending time with dogs are proven, and educational and healthcare institutions have both recognized these benefits and begun using therapy dogs. Service dogs have also been used to support the emergency services and the military in a variety of capacities. The roles played by dogs have varied from sniffer dogs to dogs who support people who have been through a traumatic experience.
Dogs have also been used to transform the lives of U.S. veterans who have suffered debilitating injuries during active service and to support those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each veteran has their own story to tell about their experiences of having a service dog, and one veteran with an amazing story is David Sharpe. Sharpe is a veteran who served for the United States Air Force. Following his experiences during active service, he now suffers from PTSD. This led to him having a support dog and inspiring him to become the founder of Companions for Heroes, which is an organization that provides first responders and veterans with support animals.
The veteran knows from his personal experiences just how important service dogs are, and what they can contribute to the veterans’ care once they are no longer in active service. Sharpe spoke to the Daily Caller and gave an emotional account of how his service dog had saved him when he was on the brink of suicide. He explained that his service dog is a former rescue dog called Cheyenne. Sharpe describes how he had reached his lowest ebb and was contemplating suicide. However, the Pit Bull Terrier looked up at him with loving eyes that showed she was there for him. That one look changed Sharpe’s life forever. Not only did it stop him from taking his own life, but it also inspired him to help other people.
He wanted to help other veterans to have a wonderful dog like Cheyenne to support them, so he founded Companions for Heroes in 2009. Since then, the non-profit organization has helped more than 4,000 veterans and military spouses, and just as many dogs. Sharpe wanted to reduce the number of veterans taking their own lives as he knows people who have done this, and he has witnessed the impact it has on their families.
According to I Heart Dogs, Companions for Heroes, also known as C4H, trains both service dogs and companion dogs to cater to the different needs of veterans and their families. All the dogs trained by the organization are former rescue dogs. Sharpe says that his mission is to aid veterans in their recovery and to support their families. He also aims to save rescue dogs from living a life in animal shelters. Therefore, there are benefits for both the humans and the dogs and it is an organization that is very worthy of support.
Both the plight of rescue dogs and the experiences of veterans are subjects close to Sharpe’s heart as he has seen the torment of the veterans and their families, and also gained personal experience of how rescue dogs can help. It is his passion for both subjects that has driven the organization to become so successful and to support so many people. Since he founded Companions for Veterans, Sharpe has never forgotten that the whole idea was inspired by his amazing service dog Cheyenne. It is she that has continued to inspire him to connect pups with people for the mutual benefits.
Sharpe has posted on Facebook about his adoration for Cheyenne and how she helped save him and so many other people. He has used the organization’s Facebook page to post a tribute to Cheyenne and thank her for everything she has done in his life. In his post, Sharpe thanks Cheyenne for bringing him back from the worst time in his life and giving him a second chance. He goes on to express his gratitude the Pit Bull for being his inspiration for Companions for Heroes and helping so many other veterans and rescue dogs.
He then credits Cheyenne with him meeting his wife Jenny because, without Cheyenne, he would not be alive today. In turn, he now has a wonderful son called Dax, for whom he is truly grateful. Sharpe says that he thanks God every night for the angel that is Cheyenne and says that Cheyenne has now become a personal protector to his son. Along with the moving tribute, Sharpe added several photographs to the post. Some of these are photos of Cheyenne posing for the camera alone, while others show her getting involved in family activities and playing with little Dax. It is clear from the photographs and the post that Cheyenne is very much an important part of the family and that she is very loved.
Now, Sharpe is continuing his good work with Companions for Heroes. He has big aspirations of pairing many more veterans with service and companion dogs that he has rescued from animal shelters. Their work supports a diverse group of people, including veterans, those in active service, and military spouses and children. Once an individual or family has been deemed eligible for the services of the organization, their dog adoption fee is covered, and the dog will receive cost-free training to become a companion dog that will support their new family. Those veterans who have a disability will have free training for their dog to become a service dog that can help with specific tasks. All dogs and families are offered a care package and follow-up meetings for the continued support from the organization. This means that everyone receives a comprehensive package of ongoing support to make sure the process is a success for all involved.