I met a celebrity this week – Centerville’s Atlas the Wonderdog. He was named the 2017 American Humane Service Dog of the Year in an awards ceremony in New York several weeks ago.
Atlas’s owner, Marine veteran Kenny Bass, served in Iraq and suffers from PTSD. For years, doctors tried to treat his condition with lots of drugs. He was eventually taking 8 different prescriptions totaling 33 pills a day, and still felt lost. Then he was rescued by Atlas.
When Kenny got a prescription for a service dog from his doctor at the VA he was told that the VA didn’t supply dogs. Kenny needed to find one on his own. He was surprised to learn that he either needed to pay between $10,000 and $60,000 for a dog or get on a 2 year waiting list. He spent $15,000 to buy Atlas and then was given just three days of training before he took the dog home. The first few months were difficult, but he and Atlas eventually learned how to work together.
As Kenny saw the benefits that Atlas brought to his life he decided to do what he could to help other vets get service dogs. He founded Battle Buddy, a nonprofit organization that gives service dogs to veterans. The dogs are also trained by veterans with the specific needs of their future owner in mind. Then the new owners are given a lot more support than Kenny had as he learned how to work with Atlas.
I’ve offered to take photos at some of the organization’s fundraisers, so you’ll probably be seeing more photos of Atlas the Wonderdog.