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Decker’s Dogs
Denver Bronco helps military vets get service dogs
Eric Decker with service dog Rommy

Eric Decker is a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, but making it to this year’s Super Bowl is only one of his recent accomplishments. More important in the eyes of many is the start of his foundation Decker’s Dogs.

Decker’s Dogs is a part of Operation Freedom, which is the branch of Freedom Service Dogs of America that focuses on helping members of the military transition from active duty and combat to civilian life. They are paired with trained service dogs that allow them to function with less fear and fewer restrictions so that they can be more independent and happier.  Many vets have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), suffer from panic attacks and flashbacks, have TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries) or are suicidal, and service dogs can make life better for people with such issues as well as those facing other challenges.

All of the dogs in Operation Freedom, including those in Decker’s Dogs, are rescued from shelters and trained to be service dogs. Dogs are provided to clients free of charge, but it takes roughly $25,000 and many months to train a single service dog. That’s where Eric Decker and his wife Jessica come in. Since starting Decker’s Dogs, they have raised many thousands of dollars, and placed their first service dog. They plan to place two more by this summer.

Maybe you are rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks in the upcoming Super Bowl. Perhaps you didn’t know who was playing and certainly don’t care who wins. Either way, it’s still easy to cheer for Decker’s Dogs and the veterans and dogs whose lives they change.

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

photo by Casey Bradley Gent, Snowshoe Studios

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