Rural Missouri - August 2021 - 19
for Camo's lead trainer. He knows
the program works because he's a
success story himself.
" I did some dumb things as a
kid and got into drugs pretty bad, "
Michael says. " When I heard about
the dog program, I knew I wanted to
become part of it. "
Michael, 37, began work with
a lab-pit bull mix named Minnie.
" There were some hard days, but
Minnie would stand by my side with
her tail hitting my leg like she was
reminding me of my goals. She helped
me stay focused. It was like she was
training me, too. "
The trainer chokes up
a bit and continues. " Working
with her was probably
the fi rst time that I ever cared
about anything other than
myself in a long time. "
Camo, Michael's young
German shepherd, keeps
his eyes on his trainer constantly.
For this session, Michael has placed
several scent tins around the area.
Camo's job is to fi nd the one with the
Camo zips around, locates the tins,
bumps the correct container with his
nose and looks up at Michael for a
" If a veteran has a special need,
like for diabetic alert, we train the
dog to constantly be aware of their
owner's breath because that's when
they know to check their blood
sugar, " adds the trainer. " If stability is
an issue, veterans would be matched
with a larger dog. We train for seizure
alert, narcolepsy, to assist with Parkinson's
and more. "
Once a dog has completed training,
they receive their AKC Community
Canine Certifi cation and are ready to
report for duty with a veteran, where
they will now serve one who served
us. But training doesn't stop there, as
K9s for Camo continues to train both
the dog and veterans when needed.
John says not every dog is cut out
for work like this.
" We're really looking for an old
soul that's just calm, attentive, not
fearful. That soul can be found
in a young or older dog. We can
usually tell if a dog is going to
work for our purposes during
our fi rst assessment, " says
From canines to inmates
and veterans, K9s for
Camo is helping make big
changes in the lives of many.
" My thought is that besides God,
I think a dog is the next best thing, "
says John. " I've seen dogs saved
within days of being euthanized,
prisoner's lives turn around, and veterans
go from suicidal to having the
will to live. It doesn't get much better
than that. "
For more information about K9s for
Camo call 417-895-8733; email info@
k9sforcamo.org or check out their website,
To make a donation or become a
sponsor, go to www.k9sforcamo.org.
When you meet
a service dog:
Don't interact with
the dog in any way;
treat the dog as you
would a wheelchair.
Do respect the
privacy of the owner.
Do not take photos
Do not question the
need for a service
Do know that a dog
may be working even
if they do not appear
Do keep your dog at
Do not approach
without asking first.
AUGUST 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP 19
Rural Missouri - August 2021
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