Morgantown, WV, (January 8, 2018)—On Friday, January 12 at 5 p.m., Air Force veteran Jim Brennan and his service dog, Stryker, will share their story of success and how Jim overcomes the symptoms he suffers from Grave’s Disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. Stryker, a graduate of the Hearts of Gold service dog training program in Morgantown, WV, is able to read Jim’s mood and anxiety levels, and then to calm, distract, or remove Jim from stressful and dangerous situations.
“Stryker saved me,’ says Brennan. “He has restored to me some of the honor that my diseases took from me.”
Brennan’s presentation at the West Virginia University Health Science Center is a part of a WVU Medical Student fundraiser for the Hearts of Gold program. WVU employs several therapy and emotional support animals trained by Hearts of Gold, including Lucas, who is available to medical students and health science staff and faculty.
“Lucas is a welcome friend to so many of our students, coping and dealing with the stress and pressure of medical school,’ says Kim Helmick, an employee at the WVU Health Science Center and Lucas’ owner and handler.
The fundraiser will go towards Hearts of Gold program costs, including care and training for a new purpose-bred litter of puppies expected in late January. Dr. Jean Meade, executive director of Human-Animal Bond, the parent organization of Hearts of Gold, says that it costs about $25,000 to train each service dog. “But the value and improvement in quality of life they bring to those they serve is incalculable.”
Students at the WVU Health Science Center will be able to submit ideas for puppy names along with their donation to Hearts of Gold in the coming weeks.
Brennen and Stryker will make their presentation, which is open to the public, on Friday, January 12, at 5 p.m. in Morgantown WV in the WVU Health Science Center North, Room 1905.