Our veterans and first responders sacrifice and risk much to protect our freedoms, keep us safe an care for us when we need it most. The services they provide are so important and their presence has been deemed "essential" even when others are called to social distance or stay home altogether. Equally essential is·making sure veterans and first responders receive the best care available when they are in need. VVhether due to physical injury, emotional trauma or often times both, many of these individuals are being prescribed service dogs to aid in their recovery and long term care.
The increased need for service dogs has resulted in the dissemination of an extensive amount of misnformation regarding what tasks these dogs perform and how they are vetted, trained and certified. Some, looking to profit at the expense of those in need, offer credentials online certifying any dog as a service dog regardless of its training or temperament. Others, while offering dogs with excellent training and valid certifications, charge $30k to $40k for their service dogs making them cost prohibitive or completely unaffordable to many.
A service dog program was created by Cynthia Bahneman Herman (Cyn) nearly 15 years ago to provide veterans, first responders and others with disabilities with dogs who are fully vetted, rained, and proven service dogs. Gunny's Ridge (501c3) hired Cyn to be their service dog Director in 2023. Cyn, having worked with trained and bred working dogs since the mid-1970s, has trained dogs to the highest dog obedience titles, including the IPO3 8-HOT/Schutzhund award.
Additionally, Cyn has NADOI certification and her service dog program mandates that every dog qualify for the AKC CGC, CGC Advanced, CGC Urban and Therapy dog requirements prior to testing for Manners, Temperament and Public Access. Only after meeting the above-mentioned criteria, passing their corresponding tests and attending 40 hours of private outings and/or task training with Cyn, are the dogs and participants eligible for service dog certification by Gunny's Ridge.
Not only does the Gunny's Ridge training program meet or exceed the highest standards and requirements necessary for service dog certification, but they also use an innovative and unique method of balanced and proven training. All applicants start with a recommendation from a prescribing physician. Rather than those in need of service dogs waiting two years and paying as much as $40k for their dogs, Gunny's Ridge matches applicants with puppies bred specifically for service and vetted for temperament and service task worthiness. Veterans and first responders are matched with puppies immediately, which fosters far greater bonding with their dogs. Additionally, participants in the program can work with and train their own dogs through to the full-service certification. Doing so empowers them while providing valuable tools and information to ensure their success.
The Gunny's Ridge program recognizes and validates how tremendously capable our veterans and first responders remain despite their challenges and impairments. The program focuses on participants' abilities rather than their disabilities. Training service dogs through completion of the program gives participants a renewed sense of purpose. It creates goals and expectations for them to meet and assess them to prove to themselves how remarkable they continue to be. Best of all, because veterans and first responders work together with Gunny's Ridge trainers, this program is able to provide them with puppies matched and imprinted to meet their needs, two years of training and service dog certification for only $10k. Please join Gunny's Ridge in helping those in need of service dogs receive the puppies and tools they need to train to the highest standards using an approach and methodology proven to help participants rediscover how capable they truly are.