SHOT 2012 Followup: Paws and Stripes

I like dogs. I like veterans. I like organizations that legitimately support injured or troubled veterans. So I love Paws and Stripes and thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jim Stanek and his service dog Sarge (both of whom you may have seen previously with Jim’s wife and Paws and Stripes co-founder Lindsay on Oprah’s ‘Ultimate Favorite Things’ episode, which they were nominated to attend by a Paws and Stripes veteran’s wife.)

Paws and Stripes was founded to pair service dogs with physically or emotionally injured veterans at no cost to the veteran. As good a service as that is, what makes it even more interesting is the source of the dogs “enlisted” for the canine therapy working dog program: they come from animal shelters, and in many cases could have been euthanized if not selected for service.

Al veterans are given the opportunity to select their own service dog, though the founder of Stars and Stripes jokes that it’s often the canines who make the selection. Selected canines are evaluated by Paws and Stripes trainers before being brought into the program—the veterans themselves enter an equipment contract to complete the training.

Jim Stanek and Sarge of Paws and Stripes

Veterans train with the dog and trainer throughout the program to strengthen their bond, to increase the understanding of the dog’s capabilities and to provide therapy. It also increases the veterans understanding about the canine’s instinct, natural pack tendency and so on. It takes approximately six months for Paws and Stripes to complete a training cycle.

As Paws and Stripes says, “Many organizations have a strict curriculum for their service dogs, requiring they learn the basic 86 commands associated with service dogs. Our enrollees, however, are not blind, deaf or paralyzed. They have unique disabilities that generate unique daily symptoms, so the dogs are trained custom to the veteran.”

Often the simple presence and actions of a service dog mitigates or even prevents the onset of an anxiety, PTSD or similar episode the veteran might otherwise suffer. They have been trained to sense the onset of psychiatric disorders and will ground the individual or even bring them back from an episode by licking the veteran’s face, pawing or barking. As might be expected, they are very solicitous of their veteran’s needs and welfare, and will even assist or seek help for an incapacitated handler.

Right now the organization is looking for help from people with the right backgrounds. Support can include directed funds, general funds, expertise, gear for an auction, whatever. Right now they are in desperate need of a bookkeeper and a grantwriter. They Staneks and their friends are overtaxed as far as time goes now, though they are driven to succeed and don’t appear to take much time off.

“How can I rest now with these guys coming back with this hanging over my head?” Jim said during our interview. “This program can make a difference, and those guys deserve the help. I can’t slack off.”

Watching the interaction between he and Sarge (a polite young lady of labrador, pit, pug, Catahoula and who knows what other mix), it was clear how well mannered, intuitive and helpful she was

They’re working on an auction now and have been talking to several big name companies to help out (including Larue, LWRC, Hornaday, Troy, Doublestar and several others). During SHOT the guys at Predator Tactical gave up a four thousand dollar custom 1911 pistol for auction and started the bidding out at $3,000 to raise money for Paws and Stripes.

Jim Stanek and the winner of the Predator Tactical pistol provided to auction for Paws and Stripes. Bidding started at $3k.

You can find more about Paws and Stripes on their website or on the Paws and Stripes Facebook page. Please take a look and consider supporting them.


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4 Responses to “SHOT 2012 Followup: Paws and Stripes”

  1. Matt M. says:

    Holy shit, Jim Stanek used to be my Squad Leader many moons ago. Small freaking world. Congrats!

  2. Jim’s a good dude, Matt, but you probably know that better than me! You should see Sarge looking after him. Stay tuned to further updates on this.

  3. Nick says:

    I consider Jim my best friend. He is the epitome of what an American is. He is doing such a great thing and I am glad to help him serve our veterans.

  4. Roberta says:

    My husband is a Marine with PTSD. We have 5 dogs of our own, can we have one of our dogs trained to be his PTSD service dog? Also I run an animal shelter in Marion, IL I would love to donate the services of my shelter to Paws N Stripes, I would be more than happy to donate dogs from my facility for this program.