PENDLETON, Ind. —
Today, Brenneman's trained service dog, Reubin, accompanies him everywhere. It makes all the difference for Brenneman’s ability to be part of the world again.
“His PTSD was running at 100 percent, running on all cylinders before he got the dog,” said Peeples. Now that he has Reubin, Brenneman’s temper and demeanor have changed, Peeples said.
“When the dog’s working, when Chris is nervous, that dog will get in between Chris and another person,” said Peeples. “It’s like he’s got his battle buddy on his left and right.”
A service dog has special training that allows it to assist people with disabilities. The dog wears a vest and carries a document that certifies it as a service dog. The vest also cautions others not to pet the dog, however tempting that may be. The dog is on the job when the vest is worn, and can accompany the owner wherever the public has access.
Changing one's life
Fran Morford in Tipp City, Ohio, trains service dogs, one of which is Reubin.
“I train them to detect nervousness and do something to stop it,” said Morford. That might be something as a little reassuring nudge with a nose. “It’s a trigger to interrupt anxiety.”
The dog rouses its owner from nightmares. When they are out and about, the dog will circle on command so no one can come too close.In addition to protection behaviors, the dog may be trained to retrieve medicines or get the phone.
It’s not a short or a cheap process. Training for service dogs runs the gamut, averaging between $5,000 to $12,000 for a puppy, although Morford noted there are trainers that will cost a customer $20,000. Brenneman, with help from Morford and others, did fund raising to enable him to acquire Reubin.