FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Dogs are commonly referred to as a man's best friend, and these animals are proving themselves when they take part in a local program that is offering companionship to military veterans.
There are 70,000 veterans in Northwest Arkansas, and roughly 14,000 of them have some form of PTSD, said Angie Pratt, founder and director of Soldier on Service Dogs, which provides trained dogs to veterans for free.
Five puppies are graduating today from their first year of training. Each dog takes about two years to train.
"If I fall down and I don't break anything, I roll over on my stomach and I call my dog and she stands right in front of me and she goes stiff as a board, and I push on her shoulders to stand up," said Richard Ellet, who's a veteran with a service dog named Tiger.
"Richard, after he had had his dog for a little while, he would say, 'My dog's not responding to me,'" Pratt said. "As he was telling the story, he got a little bit upset about it and then Tiger, his dog, got up and came and put her head in his lap, and I'm going, 'Richard, she's doing what she's supposed to.'"
The first-year graduates still have to go through an additional year of training. That's when they'll learn the specific needs for each vet, since each one has a different issue to address and treat. This includes things like nightmares and high blood pressure, and some dogs can even tell when a veteran is going to have a seizure before it happens.