New Castle News

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April 8, 2013

‘He has given me a life’: Vietnam veteran finds stability, friendship in service dog

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — SAVING THE DAY

Lambert also knows when David is in trouble and he knows how to get him out of it.

David feels confident to drive on his own when Lambert is with him. The two were driving home from Pittsburgh last year when Lambert started nudging David from the back seat.

“I was losing my focus and he sensed it,” David said. “I’m sure he saved us from an accident.”

Just before Christmas, David awoke with a slight cramp in his stomach. Jane went off to work and as the day went along, the cramps worsened. David fell to the living room floor in pain just after lunch, out of reach of the phone, and Lambert began licking his face.

“Lambert, go fetch phone,” David commanded his dog.

In less than 30 seconds, Lambert delivered the phone and placed it in front of David so he could call Jane at work. At the hospital, David was diagnosed with an obstructed bowel.

Woods said that while Lambert is the first PTSD dog he has trained, he expects the practice to become a trend. While service dogs long have helped the blind, they now are being paired with children with autism to help them adapt.

“Service dogs also are becoming more common among veterans with so many coming back from the war and suffering from PTSD,” he said. “In the case of someone like David, having Lambert is very therapeutic to him. They go through the training together and every victory for Lambert is a victory for him.

“Lambert,” he added, “is in a perfect situation, and so is David.”

A FRIEND FOR LIFE

Lambert sleeps in bed with David and Jane, while Granite, who has battled arthritis and degenerative bone disease since he was 2 years old, sleeps nearby.

“We try not to leave Granite out, even though his service dog days are over,” David said. “When Lambert goes out as a service dog and Jane is at work, we bring someone in to stay with Granite so he doesn’t get depressed. He’s smart, he knows what is going on.”

Keeping Lambert up-to-date in his training is costly, but well-worth it, as far as David and Jane are concerned. The two already have more than $9,000 invested in Lambert, attending a group class with him every Saturday morning, as well as private classes twice-monthly.

“You have to keep his mind stimulated or he will forget what he knows,” David said. “Plus, as I’ve learned, 95 percent of the training is for the owner, not the dog.”

David plans to take Lambert golfing for the first time this summer.

“I’m going golfing and I’m looking forward to it,” David said. “Granite and Lambert changed everything for me.

“Without this guy,” he added as Lambert jumped up to shower him with hugs and kisses, “I’d either be in hiding or in a hole somewhere. He has given me a life.”

(Email: kcubbal@ncnewsonline.com).

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