Amanda was diagnosed with PTSD after a history of sexual abuse during her childhood. She has suffered from severe anxiety and flashbacks since that time. A year ago she adopted Lola, a psychiatric service dog in training with Healing Companions.
Amanda is in the early stages of training Lola. Lola completed her basic training with the “Healing Companions” trainers at Grafton Correctional Facility. Amanda and Lola spent their initial months together getting to know each other and figuring out each other’s quirks. For the past few months Amanda has been working with the Healing Companions trainer weekly learning how to train Lola to help her in times of anxiety. Lola will tap her foot or step on it. She may also nudge Amanda with her nose or lean against her legs. These things help to bring Amanda to the present and ground her. Lola helps Amanda pay more attention and be more focused on what is happening in the moment instead of what has happened in the past.
Shortly after Amanda adopted Lola, she also visited the trainers at Grafton Correctional Facility to share her story with them. She described it as an “amazing experience” to meet them, especially the man who trained Lola. The visit gave her a much better understanding of the work they do with the shelter dogs and the bond they form. She was profoundly moved and touched by the connection they had with Lola and the depth of excitement Lola and the trainers had upon her entrance into the room where they were awaiting her arrival. Lola ran in the room with gusto and joy straight to her trainer and circled around with excitement to see all of them. It was so beautiful for Amanda to watch Lola’s reaction to returning and for the trainers to hear Amanda’s story. She was happy to share how their work has so profoundly impacted her life.
The trainers were equally grateful for her visit as well. One inmate expressed that “To see how our work with the dogs can help others makes it worth every moment. It’s hard to sometimes to see the dogs leave, but to know the effect they have on others’ lives is amazing!”
Another inmate who visited with Amanda wrote, “I’m glad that Lola has had such a positive effect on your life. What you had to say made me realize that my life is going in the right direction.”
Amanda is grateful to the Healing Companions organization and to the trainers for their services. Lola has brought a lot of joy, laughter and lightness into her life.