Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fundraiser set to get dogs for veterans

Donations accepted by Ketchum Womens’ Auxiliary

Express Staff Writer

Dustin Schenstrom joined the Army upon graduation from high school in 1999. He was deployed immediately following 9/11 to Iraq , and was again deployed there in 2010. Schenstrom was accepted into the Companion Training program in August 2011 and was partnered with Molly, a golden retriever. Courtesy photo

The Women's Auxiliary of the Ketchum American Legion Post is holding a fundraiser this weekend to continue to match up traumatized war veterans with the healing power of man's best friend.

Thanks to a similar fundraiser held last August, four Idaho veterans have been matched with trained dog companions that are helping them cope with severe post-traumatic-stress disorder and/or other physical injuries such as brain trauma and loss of hearing.

"The veterans and dogs are trained together to give them confidence and security, and the dogs learn how to detect anxiety attacks or 'freeze-ups' and other issues to bring them back to focus and move through it," said Julia Couch, one of the organizers of the program.

The Dollars for Dogs fundraiser, billed as a "unique boutique," will be held at the American Legion Hall in Ketchum on Saturday, June 30, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The American Legion Hall is located at 220 Cottonwood St., at the corner of Second Avenue. A $5 entry donation will be charged at the door.

Donation items are sought by the auxiliary and can be dropped off at the American Legion Hall through Friday, June 29, from 4-5 p.m. each day. For pickups of items or for more information, call 622-3736 or 726-2726.

The auxiliary is accepting artwork, jewelry, crystal, linens, home décor accessories and clothing.

Couch and other members of the Women's Auxiliary raised $18,000 during a similar event last summer for the training of service dogs, offered through Companion Training in Boise.

"Companion Training is extremely committed to the success of our auxiliary program and has made us aware of an unlimited source of Idaho veterans that can benefit from an assistance dog," Couch said. "It is truly 'life saving' for them. Many cannot leave their homes or be in public. They have severe anxiety and depression, which doesn't allow them to participate in their home environments or hold a job."

Tony Evans:

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