Warriors’ Best Friend Connects Rescued Dogs, Veterans
Tucked between the gentle rolling hills outside of Kansas City, Missouri, you might miss the farmhouse that sits beside a lake and is the temporary home to dogs in training–rescue dogs who are preparing for their most joyful journey yet–to become a warrior’s best friend. You might miss the farmhouse turned respite and training location for the dogs chosen to be part of the non-profit called Warriors’ Best Friend.
But you won’t want to miss the impact that these shelter dogs are making in the lives of wounded warriors. You won’t want to miss the dedicated team behind this non-profit who pair a dog who needs a home with a warrior in need of companionship and support. And it’s impossible to miss the positive impact that this non-profit is having on the lives of wounded warriors and shelter dogs…giving both a renewed spirit and companionship for an independent lifestyle.
Getting to Know the Warriors’ Best Friend Team…
Along with my constant sidekick Happy-Go-Doodle Chloe, I had the joy of visiting with two women who are the backbone of Warriors’ Best Friend. Chloe and I visited the 65-acre site, met some of the rescue dogs in training, and learned about Warriors’ Best Friend from Samantha and Bella Jeffers.
Meet Samantha Jeffers: Director of Development at Warriors’ Best Friend
Samantha Jeffers, director of development, greeted me at the front door of the house turned Warriors’ Best Friend headquarters. Framed photos of dogs paired with veterans hung on the walls of the office, which felt more like a family room than a meeting room.
Jeffers pointed to an architectural drawing of the area and shared expansion plans that included tiny homes as lodging, so that veterans could stay on-site while receiving training with their soon-to-be constant canine companions.
Before heading out to meet the dogs in training and the lead service dog trainer, Samantha shared these facts with me:
- Warriors’ Best Friend’s mission is to provide critically needed service dogs free of cost for our veterans and their families.
- Warriors’ Best Friend adopts and trains homeless canines to give wounded soldiers greater self-sufficiency through emotional and physical independence—empowering men and women to lead a free and active lifestyle.
- All the dogs at Warriors’ Best Friend were once shelter dogs. The team at Warriors’ Best Friend works closely with local shelters including Great Plains SPCA to identify rescue dogs with the body frame and characteristics ideal for becoming service dogs.
- While many service dogs cost tens of thousands of dollars for veterans, a Warriors’ Best Friend service dog does not cost a penny for wounded warriors. The non-profit relies on donations and corporate sponsors to cover many of the significant costs of training, veterinary care, canine supplies (service vest, leash, collar, bowls, training treats), as well as handler training costs (lodging, meals, activities for the veteran while he or she is in training) and more.
- Until on-site housing is constructed, veterans stay in local hotels while receiving extensive training with their service dog. During training, they have seminars and take day trips to local businesses where they practice commands and the new warrior-dog team gets to know each other.
- Jeffers sees the positive impact and transformation that happens when soldier and service dog bond. Her work is highly rewarding.
Meet Bella: Training Each Dog to become a Service Dog
As Samantha, Chloe, and I strolled through the expansive backyard to the kennel, it was easy to see the beauty of the training facility which was surrounded by fields and a pond. This was where Bella, Warriors’ Best Friend dog trainer caught up with us, chatted about the training the dogs receive, and demonstrated some of the commands that the dogs learn. She shared these facts with me:
- Bella works closely with local animal shelters to choose dogs that will be a perfect pairing for wounded warriors. Dogs are selected based on both physical characteristics and temperament.
- The dogs are taught 25 basic and advanced commands.
- The dogs must master all the commands along with three specific commands (block, cover, and brace) that are tailored the specific needs of soldiers with PTSD.
- When the dogs have successfully completed their training, she works diligently to make sure that the warrior and dog are the best match for each other.
Demonstrations and Dogs
Bella’s positivity, training skills, and love for dogs was clear as she demonstrated the block, cover, and brace commands with two of the dogs in training: Charlie Brown and Boscoe. Charlie Brown, a fan of belly rubs, got plenty of loving after successfully executing the commands.
Boscoe was quick to please Bella and showed her some affection too.
Chloe and Charlie Brown searched for some treats!
Warriors’ Best Friend…New Best Friends
Finally, as Chloe and I drove home on the winding gravel road after an afternoon of connecting with the Warriors’ Best Friend pack, I imagined the positive impact that Warriors’ Best Friend, Samantha, Bella, and dogs like Boscoe and Charlie Brown are making on the lives of service people who had already given so much to protect us. It’s inspiring to know that homeless dogs and wounded warriors are connecting with each other…and becoming best friends.
What questions do you have about our visit to Warriors’ Best Friend? Please comment below.
Doodle kisses and tail wags!