Why I forgot to cook the dinner tonight...

I started writing this and couldn't stop.
I have only just seen this great article and it's made me feel bad. I could have done much more to help Craig. I've been busy, but what he's doing makes everything I do seem trivial by comparison. Surely we can find a few minutes to read this? Open up your heart....
Before you read it, here's a few words from me on why I am prepared to beg you to help this little charity get bigger.
Please adopt it this year as your own, nurture it, care about it - because you will be making a MASSIVE difference.
Have a raffle (ask me for a prize, it's the least I can do). Anything you can do will be so appreciated.
Craig is naturally a VERY, very shy and humble person, talking to the press does not come easily.
He HATES talking about himself.
It is an indication of how really brave he is that he has forced himself to do this interview.
Craig knows he has to talk about things that are so personal, so painful to make you care enough to spread the word about this very special charity he started.
Not because he wanted a job or to create an empire or get an OBE. It wasn't a hobby, it was something he felt compelled to do.
If he doesn't tell you about why it's so important, you'd never know it was there.
He has been very quietly, thoroughly asking for help and advice from the best experts in every field - doing everything properly and carefully and progressively just putting his head down and gently, effectively making it the best it can be. And at the same time, on no tangible funding and just committed passionate volunteers like the excellent Kirsten Dillon - already quietly starting to really help people with PTSD.
No fancy PR fizz, no stunts - because Craig knows that most returning troops with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder like things to be really calm. Discreet. Reliable. Safe. Predictable.
These brave people got so badly damaged because they put their lives on the line for us - we might not agree with the conflicts, but you have to admire these heroes who risked everything. You don't see the damage when you first look. There's no obvious wound in many cases, no visible disability. Yet they have come home so altered that they are much more likely to die back home than they would ever have done on a battlefield.
PTSD kills more of our troops than any hostile enemy ever will. There are no new sparkly drugs on the horizon that will make them magically all better, no Noel Fitzpatrick of the mind able to reassemble them with a gadget. This is a very serious, complex mental illness that can kill you and others if mishandled. It's not something you want to dabble in, would you contemplate learning how to diffuse a bomb by reading a book? You really shouldn't ever underestimate the skills of the experts.
Craig's beloved dog somehow helped find the way out when he was really lost, that dog (and Combat Stress) brought him safely back to his family - made him want to live. The dog was a brilliant ingredient in helping him and others undergoing treatment - but Craig knows and appreciates that you need to tackle PTSD on all fronts. There's not quick and easy fits all solutions. You underestimate this condition at your peril. Your mistakes could cost lives, so you prepare, you plan, you work with the best experts in every field.
Craig has found a route out of the minefield he had in his mind - and he wants to be given the chance to show some of his comrades how they too could safely navigate their way out, too.
Not in a starry, idealistic, shiny, unrealistic way. Craig is not like that.
He knows the grim reality of what this devastating condition can do to a family. He has the insight only someone who has lived through this condition can bring.
He is THE man for this job.
Let him do it.
Please support him in this mission.
You might have read between the lines here, but I really, really want Craig to succeed - I will push him forward as I know he will not. I want him to be able to make some sense out of what happened to him. For him to feel thoroughly supported in what he is doing - to cheer him on and help him make a huge positive out of a ghastly negative.
Combat Stress helped Craig get better and they have helped him with starting this charity and they are working closely with him every step of the way. He has reached out and collaborated. He has asked existing charities for help every step of the way and listened to experts in every field.
He has found the best people to help him and his appreciates their expertise and that's what will make this charity great, teamwork.
And this team needs you! Because what Craig is not good at is asking for money!
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is easily reduced to a four letter abbreviation (PTSD), but another four letter word comes to mind when you realise how very hard it is to shake it and how if you underestimate it, you do so at your peril.
Please help him reach his goal. His motivation has absolutely nothing to do with sending anyone's ego on a trip, he's a real proper hero and he really needs your help. Please pass this on, join in, don't let something this special linger in the shade. Let's put the spotlight on this very reluctant hero and help him.
Thank you for reading
Beverley Cuddy, Editor Dogs Today
Here's the article in One Media....
Craig is the founder of the charity, Veterans With Dogs, which trains Assistance Dogs to increase independence and improve quality of life for British ex-servicemen and women with mental health conditions.
When was Veterans With Dogs founded and what was your initial inspiration?
I founded the charity in 2012 after witnessing the effect of Labrador, Fudge’s, presence during a six-week residential treatment programme for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, where she assumed the role of matriarch for all 16 ex-servicemen.
She gave herself her own jobs and took it upon herself to keep an eye on everyone attending treatment, and to provide a sense of comfort and relief for many of those that found the day emotionally difficult.
Seeing these behaviours led to some long conversations about the need for further development of this kind of work, to bring the positive benefits of dog ownership to a wider audience whose needs were based on mental health conditions resulting from trauma. So Fudge was my inspiration!
How many British ex-servicemen and women do you think you have helped over this time?
We have worked with over 200 veterans since then, providing various activities including workshops, residential training, open days, meet-and-greet events and educational initiatives. We’re pleased with what we’ve done so far, but we want to do so much more.
Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments?
We were delighted to receive an award from Dogs Today magazine in recognition of the work Fudge had done. But the best moments are always those times when we get to see results. When those light bulb moments happen, witnessing the tangible difference that a dog can make to someone’s well being, it is an amazing feeling.
Where do you find the dogs that you go on to train? Do you ever work with rescue dogs?
Our dogs can be sourced from anywhere – from breeders to rescue centres, provided that they are assessed as suitable for the work that is intended, and that they are of a suitable age and temperament to train and work with.
Do you match the dogs to the people or do you train the dogs when you encounter a person with a specific need?
Dogs are trained specifically for each individual, as needs are very different from person to person. The earlier we begin the process the more pronounced the results, which is why we prefer to start with puppies rather than a mature dog as a great deal depends on the bond that is developed between the two in order to cement a working partnership.
Can you tell us a bit more about your Assistance Dog programme and what it focuses on?
The programme is the first of its kind in the UK – specifically training dogs for the mental health needs of trauma resulting from military service. The dogs are trained in task-work unique to each individual and their needs. This can be from medication reminders and retrieval, grounding techniques and calming measures for panic attacks or heightened anxiety, turning lights on during nightmares, waking up the handler and motivation, guiding to a safe place, focus work to reduce hyper vigilance – the list goes on.
What are your aspirations for the future?
We wish to provide more partnerships and increase our capacity to meet the ever growing demand for our work. Longer term we are looking to establish a centre of excellence with our own facilities capable of providing even more support combining clinical professional services and animal behavioural training.
Being a non profit organisation, relying on fundraising and donations, how do people get in touch if they wish to contribute?
All donations are very gratefully received and as a small charity donations make a very big difference. People can donate or just contact us for more information or help through the website – www.veteranswithdogs.org.uk


Houndhome said…
Well said Beverley.

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