Meet Lee Blackwell
Lee was the first veteran 1st Foundation has been able to pair with a service dog entirely through charitable donations.
Lee Blackwell retired from the armed forces several years ago and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After careful evaluations of potential canines, Lee was paired with Aubie, a 2 year old black lab. This pairing marks the beginning of a collaboration between iK9 and the 1st Foundation and it’s desire to support military families, and iK9’s desire to provide our nation’s veterans who suffer from PTSD with capable, highly-trained service dogs.
Aubie has been trained specifically as a service dog, and she can do a variety of things to assist Lee in his everyday life, including:
- Blocking: Those who have PTSD are often anxious in crowds or around strangers. Aubie can “Block”, which means she will put herself in a position to create a barrier of space around the veteran, creating feelings of comfortability and security.
- “Sweep” and “Lights”: When PTSD sufferers enter a residence (or any lodging), they may feel anxious. iK9 Service Dogs enter the dwelling before the owner and “sweep” each room looking for any persons that may be present, but unannounced to the veteran, then alert the owner by barking. The dog is also trained to turn on the lights in each room so the veteran does not have to enter a dark room.
- Emotional Support: Lee mentioned that in his initial week of bonding, this was the most important thing that Aubie had already given to him. iK9 Service Dogs provide emotional support, both in tangible and intangible ways. Aubie is perfectly suited for this role; in a way, she can sense when Lee is feeling anxious or upset. In fact, iK9 was certain that the pairing was strong when on the first day they met, Aubie comforted Lee instinctively as he shared some of his war stories with the iK9 trainers.