‘Stock Your Cellar’ Event Supports the Military Animals Project | Training Service Animals to help Our Vets

Originally published by the Citizen’s Journal – http://citizensjournal.us/stock-your-cellar-event-supports-the-military-animals-project-training-service-animals-to-help-our-vets/

Author and photo credits – Denise Pedrow

I’ve attended two of Holdren’s Steaks and Seafood-Stock Your Cellar events.  This past one was hands-down my favorite.  Not only were the wines and hors d oeuvre delicious, but the presence of some special guests of honor made the day extra festive.   This year, Holdren’s Steakhouse graciously offered to make their annual event into a fundraiser for “Military Animal Project”, a new Ventura County Non-Profit that works to rescue, train and pair dogs with Veterans who would benefit from having an Emotional Support or Psychiatric Service Dog.

As I walked inside the event, two furry friends lay on the cool tile inside of Holdren’s Steakhouse.  I was most struck by the sense of gentleness and peace that radiated from the dogs.  Kind and knowing eyes looked at me as I leaned down to say hello.  These trained professionals did not sniff or start with surprise as I leaned over them.  The Military Animals Project volunteers were a delightful addition to the wine tasting event.  Next to the dogs and their trainers, a lively raffle table was doing brisk business as tickets were purchased for the generous prize provided by Holdren’s Steaksand Seafood. (www.holdrens.com).  I was happy to see favorite cellars being represented at the event such as Stags Leap, Silver Oak, Grgich Hills and San Simeon to name a few.

After tasting the delicious wines, I got a chance to sit for a few minutes with Mardu Lydick, Director of Military Animal Project.  She explained how after many years as Director for Ventura County “Pets for Vets” organization she recognized a need to broaden the scope of animals and treatments to help the over 46,000 Veterans living in Ventura County.

On May 7, 2018, “Military Animal Project” (www.militaryanimalproject.com) or MAP, was begun to train service dogs in Ventura County.  MAP was soon joined by “Veteran Barn Door Project” (www.veteranbarndoor.com) to bring Equine Therapy alongside training service dogs and a new non-profit was begun.Military Animal Project (MAP) has an all-volunteer crew of 15-20 people who work with carefully chosen dogs from Ventura and Los Angeles County rescue and shelter facilities.  The MAP trainers can carefully assess up to 400 dogs before one with the right temperament and age is found.  It takes up to 2-3 months for a dog to be fully trained for Emotional Support and longer to become a Psychiatric Service Dog.

The carefully trained pups provide key emotional support and comfort for Veterans suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, PTS(D) and many other physical injuries.  The dogs become more than just a pet, they provide a purpose for a Veteran to live in the present and not the past.  Sometimes the most healing thing the therapy dogs do is to show affection through physical contact such as licking a Veterans face to help bring them out of an anxiety attack.  Other dogs can help with waking the Veteran from nightmares, reminding them to take their medication and even turning on lights if needed. Military Animal Project is certain to become a stellar non-profit in Ventura County as it helps lead the charge in providing care and support to our local heroes.