TYLER, Texas (KETK) — CampV is helping veterans turn their pups into service dogs and even letting them be part of the process.

“He looks after me and I look after him,” said Mark Shaw, veteran and Community Engagement Manager for CampV.

Mark Shaw and his dog Thor.

Mark Shaw and his pup Thor took a service dog certification class through CampV last year.

“We found that there was really not a good place to send anyone for service dog training,” said Travis Gladhill, Executive Director, CampV.

After CampV saw a need for veterans and their best friends they started their own classes in Tyler.

“So veterans suffer from several different items, you know anything from anxiety to PTSD to diabetes, and so a service dog can help them with any of those type of issues that they may have,” said Gladhill.

They offer a 5-week class that cost $120. Judy Parsons is the trainer and gets them ready for the “Public Access Test”, which is the last step before getting certified.

“Which is how to behave in restaurants, acclimate them to stairs, elevators, the specific behaviors they will need in those environments and for whatever needs the veteran himself has,” said Judy Parsons, Service Dog Trainer.

Parsons is a strong believer in letting veterans participate with their dogs.

“What I found is that these veterans are passionate about their dogs and so they want their dogs’ best interest at heart too,” said Parsons.

For Shaw and Thor, it was the greatest experience, that they would recommend to any veteran. Allowing Shaw to take his best friend anywhere he goes.

“For you to sit there and train with them and be part of that class, that’s part of the bonding process,” said Shaw.

The next round of classes will be every seven weeks and will continue through the end of 2023. 

For information and entry into this class, contact Judy Parsons at judysbigdogs@yahoo.com.

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