Battle Buddies dogs help veterans heal

first_img BATTLE GROUND — Shannon Walker looked at Kevin Williams’ damaged spirit and his yellow Labrador retriever’s undisciplined demeanor and saw her chance. Her father had raised her to have reverence for veterans. In Williams and his dog, Sam, the dog trainer saw a way to thank a veteran for his service in a palpable way.Walker’s recent expression of gratitude to Williams, a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, has blossomed from one act of kindness into a full-fledged mission.Since starting the nonprofit Northwest Battle Buddies in January, Walker has providedtrained dogs free of charge for three combat veterans with PTSD and is in the process of training a dozen more. Her waiting list has the names of 14 combat veterans.Walker has owned and operated Man’s Best Friend for 17 years, training thousands of dogs in the process. In just five months, Northwest Battle Buddies has become like a second job, she said.Not that she’s complaining.“I love America, and I love veterans,” Walker, 45, said.Father’s influenceWalker’s late father, Glenn, who served in the Air Force, instilled her with a deep respect for veterans. The Pendleton, Ore., native recalled attending a rodeo with her father when she was young, during which he pointed out a veteran in the crowd and told her they were in the presence of a hero. Diamond lays on the floor of the Fred Meyer in Battle Ground on Wednesday during training to become a combat veteran’s companion.last_img read more