6 Dogs graduate to 'Soldier's Best Friend' program

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX --  It was graduation night for six very special four-legged friends here in the Valley.

On Monday, August 4, six former Arizona Humane Society (AHS) dogs who were once homeless, graduated with Soldier's Best Friend. The non-profit organization trains dogs, often shelter dogs, to become service or therapy dogs for veterans living with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Soldier's Best Friend typically contacts AHS detailing a description of a particular dog they are looking for, based on the veteran's needs and preferences. Then, AHS calls when a candidate is found.

The two then train together twice a week over a period of six-to-nine months and when ready, will graduate.

U. S. Navy Veteran Joy Hickok says her dog helped her deal with PTSD. "I walked into the pound and I knew. I knew right then," she says. "I grabbed all the paperwork and I ran out front and I waited three hours in line, and I got her in the truck, and she put her head in my lap and that was it. It was over. but don't get me wrong; she rescued me."

Since partnering in 2011, AHS has sent 38 shelter pets to Soldier's Best Friend.