When Firefighter DuWayne Schwartz saw how first responders like him who deal with a lot of emotional toll were not getting the help they really needed, he decided to create a solution. But this solution was unlike others because it was less formal and quite different.
And so, Schwartz started a non-profit organization called Operation K9 Hero that is a volunteer-based and donation-funded organization dedicated mainly to help first responders by providing emotional support dogs or what is called canine therapy. Aside from first responders, he also aims to help veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
One of Operation K9 Hero’s service dogs in training is three-year-old Tio.
Together, Tio and Schwartz make a great therapy team. They aim to visit police stations, fire departments, or even just meet someone who is in need of a friend and companion. Schwartz shared that dogs offer the therapeutic connection where there are no words needed. They can help start a conversation or break the ice to help people open up.
Especially for people who suffer from PTSD who have a very difficult time trying to talk to somebody, dogs like Tio can prove to be very helpful in making them feel that they are in a safe space. Something as really simple as petting a dog can take the edge off and make them feel more comfortable. Additionally, dogs give that feeling of compassion that is also very important when dealing with people who have PTSD.
As of now, Tio and Schwartz will focus on their main goal which is to help alleviate stress and improve the well-being of first responders and veterans. But they are open to meet anyone who could benefit from Tio’s special and magical skills. After all, every one needs a comforting hug or even just a calm presence from time to time.