August 23, 2008, Billings, MT – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can cause life-long struggles with depression and flash-backs. Christina Avey was unsure when someone recommended she get a service dog. Making a mistake many do by thinking the animals only assist people with physical disabilities. But Christina is now very emotional about the way her new dog Zeus has changed her life.
Christina Avey is an army veteran. She served from 19-80 to 1986 and again in 1997. Christina no longer talks about the trauma that caused her Post Traumatic stress Disorder, but she lives with the consequences every day. She says since her diagnosis 11 years ago life has changed dramatically. “It’s destroyed my life.” says Avey. She says because of PTSD, she has trouble dealing with society in general and suffers from depression, nightmares and flashbacks. Now, 11 years later, Avey finally feels like she has hope. “I met another person who had a therapy animal, and for me I needed it more because I knew where I was heading. Deeper inside where I might not come out of my house anymore.”
Soon after Avey got in touch with Deb Bouwkamp, an instructor with Service Canines of Montana. Deb has trained service dogs for 13 years; but Zeus is the first animal she trained to help a PTSD patient. “It’s a very new concept. it’s not fully accepted around the U.S.” But Bouwkamp says medical professionals are recommending it.
And Avey is getting the word out with a web-site because she thinks this can help other veterans. “He is a bridge to a life that I had been missing. There’s people talking to me, there’s people talking to me that I had pushed away and didn’t want to talk to before. You lose trust with PTSD. He’s what I call a bridge to life.” says Avey. Bouwkamp says she sees a huge change in Avey since getting Zeus. “She called me and I had to ask who it was because it wasn’t the same sown voice, her voice has lifted.” It’s still a daily struggle for Avey, but she says she now feels something she hasn’t in a long time, safe. To see Avey’s web-site, click on connections on the Kule-8 website.