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Dog trainer will soon offer sessions training PTSD service dogs.

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CANTON — A dog trainer based in Canton will be embarking soon on a new dimension of her profession — training service dogs for people who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maureen A. Ring has been training dogs all over St. Lawrence County for more than a year. After being contacted by Tessa M. Raybuck, technical sergeant in active duty at Clarkson University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, Potsdam, she is going to become a service dog trainer for Train a Dog, Save a Warrior.

Mrs. Ring said that PTSD service dogs can be described as over-trained therapy dogs. Because many people with PTSD have a difficult time in public settings, she said, the dogs are trained to be in all different types of public areas so veterans or anyone else who suffers from PTSD can take their service dogs with them everywhere they go.

“They’ll sense when you’re stressed or nervous,” Mrs. Ring said. “They just have that calming effect.”

Ms. Raybuck was suffering from PTSD issues when she decided to Google programs for a PTSD service dog.

“It’s a hard thing to get through, and sometimes you just need a battle buddy like a dog,” she said. “So I found the TADSAW program, talked with my counselor and started moving forward with that program.”

Ms. Raybuck said she’s been deployed to the Middle East twice over the course of her service. Having a trained dog, she said, will help her calm down during panic attacks.

“This is a dog that has unconditional love,” she said. “When I’m having panic attacks, she’ll just lay there and lets me pet her because she knows that’s what I need.”

Although TADSAW does provide the funding for veterans to obtain dogs from shelters, Ms. Raybuck used her own money to buy a toy poodle, Sylvia, from a breeder in Watertown because she couldn’t find a hypoallergenic dog that could be trained in the program from several humane societies in the area where she looked.

Ms. Raybuck said the Elks Lodge, Potsdam, is providing the funds for the puppy stages of the training; then TADSAW will provide for the PTSD service training for Sylvia.

During the search for her dog with area humane societies, Ms. Raybuck said, she was given Mrs. Ring’s contact information and was told she was one of the top dog trainers in the area.

Mrs. Ring started her independent business, 4 Paws Training, last April.

Mrs. Ring worked as a veterinary technician for 15 years in Montreal, Quebec. After getting married, moving to the U.S., having her daughter, Isabella, and getting her German shorthaired pointer, Karlie, she decided to become a certified dog trainer.

Mrs. Ring said she had a difficult time finding a dog trainer in the area, so she took an online course and has been training dogs ever since.

Along with private classes at dog owners’ homes, Mrs. Ring said, she holds classes at the Potsdam Humane Society’s animal shelter.

After talking to Ms. Raybuck, Mrs. Ring said, she is filling out an application with TADSAW to become a PTSD service dog trainer.

“We’ve been working with her, getting her through the puppy stage,” Ms. Raybuck said of her dog.

After Sylvia passes the puppy stages of the training, Mrs. Ring is hoping to be certified with TADSAW so she can continue training Ms. Raybuck’s dog.

Mrs. Ring said that she thinks there is a need for PTSD service dog training in St. Lawrence County because of the military presence. In the future, she said, she would like to have her own facility for training classes.

For more information, or an application for TADSAW’s PTSD Service Dog Program, call Program Director Bart Sherwood at 210-643-2901.

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