Dogs are not just joyful and playful pets. In many cases, they are your companions who will appreciate your silence while making you feel loved and understood. Their reliability as a friend qualifies them as an emotional support animal. As trained support animals, dogs can help in preventing nightmares and dealing with stress and anxiety.

Among the many people who benefit from emotional support dogs is Paul Wilkie. He was a serviceman who served the army for more than two decades. Here’s Paul’s story of recovery with the help of Irma the dog.

Paul’s emotional wounds

In a moving personal story he penned for a British newspaper, Paul detailed how a car crash triggered his PTSD. He said that the accident unlocked years of memories he buried. These included the horrors of war, friends’ deaths, and that one situation where he was held at gunpoint.


The said nightmares were vivid, and they would flash back throughout the day. Paul said that he was constantly on the edge of being emotionally triggered.

Paul then turned to alcohol to deal with the pain. His marriage also fell apart. At this point, he knew he had to seek help.

Irma helps Paul to recover

Paul was able to receive a clinical diagnosis of PTSD. From here, he began his treatment.

A UK organization called Bravehound, which provides training support dogs for veterans, recommended Paul to get a dog. This was where he met Irma.

With Irma around Paul, the veteran is able to keep the traumatic flashbacks and his volatile moods under control. The dog also gives Paul the confidence to explore the outdoors.

Paul says that Irma reads him like a book. She would know when Paul is angry or sad. And whenever Paul experiences the traumatic flashbacks, Irma wakes him up by touching or licking him. There are even times when Irma would just stand on Paul’s chest.

If all goes well with Paul and Irma, the wounded veteran will eventually emerge victoriously!

Image Source: Bravehound UK via Facebook


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Cathy D. Evans
Life-long fan of all dogs including Finnegan pictured here. He's a Chinook about a year old with the most wonderful personality. Please enjoy this dog website and its content. “Dogs don’t rationalize. They don’t hold anything against a person. They don’t see the outside of a human but the inside of a human.” —Cesar Millan (dog trainer)


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