Olivia and Ellie

Olivia and Ellie

Trained to Serve

Ellie was a 14-month old chocolate lab when her owners could no longer take care of her. She was surrendered to the Humane Society of Oldham County, which placed Ellie in their dog-training program in the Luther Luckett prison. David Benson, the founder and executive director of Dogs Helping Heroes, had been teaching the inmates at Luther Luckett Correctional Facility to train dogs for three years by this time. David recognized Ellie’s potential as a service dog because of her relaxed and focused temperament.

The Humane Society of Oldham County kindly donated Ellie to Dogs Helping Heroes. She received two months of training in manners and formal commands before being introduced to service dog commands. Ellie was moved to Duffy’s Dog Training Center for the next stage of training and, over the course of six weeks, the trainers fine-tuned Ellie’s general obedience commands, manners and service dog commands in real public life settings. The following stage involved eight to ten private instruction lessons with her new hero.

Ellie and Olivia

Ellie was placed with Olivia, and both dog and hero are doing well. Together they mastered the required lessons, including the “at ease” command. When Olivia experiences an uncomfortable situation, she gives the “at ease” command, and Ellie immediately knows to respond in a meaningful and supportive way that helps Olivia be at ease in the situation.

"In 2011 I was in a mortar attack while on deployment in the Army which triggered/caused a ton of medical issues to deal with. In 2012 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis that robs me of many functions. My balance comes and goes over time as well as the issues I struggle with due to PTSD. I was sent to the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) in 2012 to start my medical evaluation board which would medically discharge me from the military. While at the WTB I was introduced to an organization called, Dogs Helping Heroes where they provide and train service dogs to eligible veterans. The idea of having a service dog at first to me was not appealing at all. I really wanted nothing to do with another dog since I already have one. But something told me to give it a try. To be more open minded, so I did. Dogs Helping Heroes pairs their dogs based on what the veterans needs are. They paired me with a beautiful chocolate lab named Ellie. I cannot imagine my life without her today. She has quite the personality to keep me not only entertained but she makes me feel secure as well. Ellie comforts me automatically when she notices that I am stressed or anxious. She has been and is always there to catch me if I become off balanced and unstable. As much as I did not want anything to do with having a service dog at first, Ellie has become my best friend. She has become my rock, my stability, my courage. And none of this would have been possible without Dogs Helping Heroes."

Olivia, Gulf War Veteran

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