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Advice and experiences wanted regarding Operation Wolf Hound and Borzois as service dogs - Sighthounds [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Advice and experiences wanted regarding Operation Wolf Hound and Borzois as service dogs [Jul. 20th, 2010|11:21 pm]
They've Got Their Eyes On You
Hello. My fiance, an Iraqi War veterin, OIF and OEF, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, USMC, United States Marine Corps has both major depression and PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I am looking into an organization called Operation Wolf Hound that provides specially trained Borzois to veterins with PTSD. Wow, looking back on that mess, what a lot of alphabet soup I've got there. Bottom line, while I am very experienced as a guide dog handler and am very familiar with the various guide dog schools in the US as well as service dog law and some service dog training establishments, I do not know any Borzois working as PTSD dogs or any other kind of Psychiatric Service Dogs. I have also never heard anything about Operation Wolf Hound until recently. I am looking for the experiences of those who own, handel, train or raise Borzois to become service dogs, especially psychiatric service dogs, or for anything that any one has heard about Operation Wolf Hound, good bad, or mixed. Within the guide dog field it is well known that some schools are amazing and some are crap, and that a horrible dog can sometimes come out of a reputable and quality school and that an outstanding dog can come from a poorly designed or implemented program on occasion, but generally reputations are pretty accurate when you start asking around. However, I am finding that because of the low prevalence of PTSD or at least the low prevalence of PTSD diagnosis and the only just emerging field of PTSD dog training, there is no easy way to descern which schools are of quality, responsible, etc.

Nice to meet you all and thank you for your help. Oh, and also, I know a lot about GSDS, German Shepherd Dogs and I love the hearding breeds in general. I do not like or dislike sight hounds, because I really know very very little about them, and have only ever met rescue grey hounds for short periods of time at festivals and carnivals. It wouldn't have been my first thought for a PTSD dog, but on the Operation Wolf Hound website they make a compelling arguement for why this breed possesses the intelligent disobedience to redirect a handler experiencing a break with reality and a keen emotional connection with their handler. They assert that a breed like a GSD would likely be upset by the behavior of someone with PTSD and exaservate the situation while one of the retriever breeds would likely ignore, be frightened of or just not notice a PTSD attack. Any thoughts?

[User Picture]From: elektrosmog
2010-07-21 05:16 am (UTC)
Though I can't speak for training my dogs to be for medical purposes, my Borzoi and those I have spent time with definitely do not pick up on stress in the same way a working/herding breed does- where those breeds become "worried" and may get overly active in an attempt to help, the Borzoi gracefully lay near or nudge you in a warm and kind way, as if to tell you not to feel bad, all is well. I have had working, herding and terrier breeds before my hounds and they are considerably different in how they react to emotions or outbursts.
The sight hounds are not lacking in intelligence by any means, they just have to really enjoy whatever you are asking of them. I think Borzoi are are the ideal therapy dog, especially for bed-ridden patients as they are the perfect height! No stinky odors or oils in the coat, and they are like petting a cloud. The sighthounds rarely produce an excess of saliva like most other breeds. Borzoi are never overly excited and take every movement in beautiful slow-motion stride. Even when coursing full speed, they appear to float. :) (now my Whippet is another story- he takes things too far when greeting and running- he is a rocket dog!)

here is the sire to my Borzoi, you can see how happy he is to show off.
and here is my little doofus. They are elegant at any age!

I think it is wonderful that you are looking into this. I hope to have my Borzoi become a therapy dog to visit hospitals when he matures, he is a show dog for now so must tolerate all distractions and handling by strangers with a good attitude. Contrary to what some may say about them being easily spooked, as long as these dogs are handled with kindness and exposed to distractions from an early age they will be bomb-proof.
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[User Picture]From: hieronymosmount
2010-07-21 11:52 am (UTC)
Beautiful Borzoi! He's an angel.....
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[User Picture]From: clevortrevor
2010-07-21 12:08 pm (UTC)
Sighthounds will spoil you for other dogs :) They really do have their own way of interacting with the world - everything you say, and what I read on the website, makes sense to me. I often hear that borzoi are one of the most trainable and people-oriented of the sighthounds, because they have a small amount of herding dog mixed in (Kuvasz, is what I've been told). It's like having a slightly a more trainable cat. My borzoi definitely picks up on emotions, but his reaction is kind subtle concern, not excitement or anxiety.

If you want to check up on the organization, I suggest contacting the NBRF and asking them about Operation Wolfhound's reputation. The borzoi community is pretty small, and there's not as much riffraff to sort through to find reputable people. I don't see any red flags, and I don't think they could be as active as they are without cooperation from many borzoi folks - a very good indicator!

Make certain you are prepared to handle all the hair though!
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From: gurf
2010-07-22 05:54 pm (UTC)
I don't have an answer to your query but wanted to say hi. My brother in law is also an Iraq War veteran and trying to deal with PTSD.
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