The Soldier’s Dog – Perfect Picture Book

The Soldier’s Dog

Doreen Norberg,  Author and Illustrator

Xlibris Corporation, Fiction, 2010

Suitable for:  Ages 4 and up

Themes: Therapy Dogs, Friendship, Healing

Opening/Synopsis“Otis was a little Pug puppy who lived in a place called the Puppy Patch.  On day, the lady who took care of Otis had a long talk with him.  She told him, “Otis, I have an important mission for you.  There is a young soldier a long way from here who is in need of a friend.  This soldier’s mother has chosen you to help her son.”  This is a story about a young soldier who returns from war and has difficulty adjusting to everyday life.  Otis travels on a plane almost 2,000 miles away from home.  The soldier and Otis develop a warm and strong bond.  The soldier needs Otis as much as Otis needs the love and friendship of the soldier.  He bought Otis a camouflage collar, to match his own uniform.  One day the soldier begins to smile again.

Why I like this story:  Animals have a healing impact on individuals.  They provide emotional support and healing when other approaches don’t work.    It is a reminder to us how important and beneficial an animal relationship can be to a person who has been damaged, particularly by war.  The author has done a lovely job of telling this story.  Her  illustrations a colorful and bold.  She has donated a part of the proceeds of this book to The Good Dog Foundation, where dogs are trained to help humans heal.

Resources:  The Good Dog Foundation suggests that you have your child read to dogs.  It’s a popular activity in the organization.  It helps children with their reading skills, boosts their self-esteem and teaches them how to interact in a calm way with dogs.

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To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

Support for the Veterans – PTSD

Many soldiers returning from war have survived one, two, three or more deployments.  They may have returned with serious  physical injuries, traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs, visual impairments and hearing loss.   Those are the identifiable physical wounds.

Then there are the invisible wounds that surface after soldiers return home.  Loved ones notice changes in their behavior, paranoia, anger, guilt, depression,  and flashbacks during sleep.  Many struggle with survivor’s guilt.  Others can’t find peace within because of the horrors they’ve seen and experienced.  Some are homeless.  I am talking about the veterans who return from war and struggle to adapt to everyday life.

Since 2003, more than 40,000 cases of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) have been diagnosed among veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  PTSD has existed since the beginning of modern civilization.  It was first identified during the Civil War.  It has been called many names, soldier’s heart, combat stress, battle fatigue, and shell-shock.

The U.S. Army has launched a campaign to reach soldiers at risk.   If you click on the link, you will see on Suicide Prevention and another video, “Shoulder to Shoulder: Finding Strength and Hope Together,” designed to promote health, risk reduction, and suicide prevention.   There also is a book available to soldiers, The Home Front, available through the Army Suicide Prevention Office.

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The National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center (NVWHC), nestled in the beautiful alpine setting of Angel Fire, NM, is a program that offered eight week-long intensive therapeutic programs in 2011 for both veterans suffering with PTSD and their spouses. There was no charge for the 298 people who participated.  For some of the veterans attending (representing various wars), it was the first time they’ve spoken about what happened to them.  And, it was first time spouses spoke.  The retreats are built around traditional, alternative and Native American healing practices.  Those who attended have kept in touch through NVWHC reunions.  The program is accepting applications.   In 2011, news journalist Lisa Ling featured the camp on her program, “Our America,” on the OWN network.  Although the site has a wonderful video, I wanted you to catch a closer glimpse of what Lisa filmed during that week.