Why We Believe in K9s For Warriors

K9s For Warriors Logo
Simply put, K9s For Warriors rescues dogs to rescue veterans. They provide highly-trained service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. K9s For Warriors is the nation's largest veteran service organization that provides trained Service Dogs to American heroes. They deliver real, lasting results - empowering their veteran graduates with confidence, independence and freedom from their invisible disabilities.

Throughout the team Ohana journey, we have had the honor of meeting many of the K9s For Warriors trainers and warrior dogs.

My name is Aurora, and I am one of the many veterans who struggle with PTSD/TBI. It is hard to put into words how much K9s For Warriors has changed my life.
In August of 2021, I left our little farm in Virginia to drive to K9s For Warriors on a mission to take back my life. Even though I’d been waiting for this day for almost 2 years, I was terrified. I actually turned around twice on my way down because I was so afraid of all the unknowns.
©K9s For Warriors
©K9s For Warriors
©K9s For Warriors
Having PTSD and feeling like you aren’t in control of your surroundings is always a struggle. Throw in hypervigilance and my tendency to overthink everything, and you’ll get a glimpse of why I was so nervous to come to campus.
I worried about the locks on the doors and what living with people would be like. I worried about beds and if I’d have any privacy. I worried about being so far from my home and what food I’d be eating. I worried that I’d left my family for 3 weeks with no idea if this would even help me.

I pulled into K9s For Warriors terrified. I used up every last bit of my strength to get there. I knew this had to work because I had nothing left to give. Everything was on the line.

When I walked in those doors, the first thing I heard was ‘welcome home’. Even through my fear, I felt the first flickers of hope. All those nights I spent worrying about how I’d be treated and if I’d be comfortable staying here—were for nothing. I instantly felt safe and welcomed.

©K9s For Warriors

We were shown the campus housing and given secure key cards to our private rooms soon after arriving. The rooms were beautiful and had everything needed for our time here. There was a SUPER comfy queen bed, a dresser, tv, desk, large closet, end table, and even a table fan for us hot sleepers! There is also a dog bed, but what’s mine is Snickers’, so I shared the queen bed with him! The setup ended up being a perfect mix of privacy and shared space, so Snickers and I were able to bond with the other Warriors on campus, but also retreat and relax privately after a long day. My hypervigilant mind was also happy to know that each room has a lock.

©K9s For Warriors
During our time on campus, Snickers and I spent the days in training and the evenings playing, swimming, and snuggling. Some evenings we’d be in the dog runs playing catch or out swimming in the pool. Other times, we’d be in the main clubhouse with the other Warriors playing games or watching movies. Some of my favorite nights were when it was just the two of us in our room, cuddling up and learning each other’s quirks. I even felt safe even taking him on walks alone at night. K9s For Warriors does a great job of anticipating things that would be an issue for someone with PTSD, and they’ve made campus as safe and comfortable as possible for Warriors.
©K9s For Warriors
©K9s For Warriors

Because I felt so safe in the housing here, I was able to focus on bonding with Snickers right away. Within a week into training, he was ‘booping’ me awake to stop the cycle of nightmares. He became in tune with my breathing and let me know when I needed to leave an area before things got too overwhelming. He sat next to me and watched my back, leaning into me when someone was coming up so I wouldn’t be startled.

By the time we left campus, I felt the heaviness of all the worries I’d been carrying start to evaporate. I had built this up as a last-ditch effort and had planned on it failing like everything else I’d tried. But after meeting Snickers and having time to bond with him in a safe, comfortable place, I knew that this was different. I knew that my life was forever changed. This enormous fluffball of unconditional love somehow knew how to fit all my broken pieces back together with a bat of his eyelashes and an ear lick.

Aurora & Chewy

Honoring Veterans

See some of the veterans we're honoring.