Monday, November 11, 2019

Remembrance Day (Human and Canine Veterans)

Today, November 11th, is Remembrance Day in Canada, Veterans Day in the United States. It is a day to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve, during times of war, conflict, and peace.

In 2011, National Service Dogs launched a program using dogs to assist veterans and first responders suffering from long-term PTSD. There are many reports that service dogs speed recovery from PTSD and help reduce reliance on medication.

canadian veteran service dogs

Service dogs are trained to detect and intervene when their handler is anxious, contribute to a feeling of safety, and promote a sense of relaxation and socialization.

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, among the 18 veterans with PTSD who had a service dog for 12 months and who completed the full 18-month study period, they showed:

  • slightly increased their physical activity – logging more daily steps and spending less time in sedentary activity;
  • reported fewer nightmares and improved sleep quality (participants felt they slept better, fell asleep more quickly and slept more hours per night);
  • had a reduction in PTSD symptoms (e.g, cognitive intrusions and hyper-arousal) with the majority experiencing a very significant decrease;
  • had a moderate, long-lasting reduction in depressive symptoms;
  • reported increases in certain quality of life domains;
  • experienced a significant increase in venturing into their communities and feeling more comfortable in public places (mostly starting after 6 months of having the service dog)
These service dogs that help veterans are  now being recognized alongside their owners on Remembrance Day.

veterans affairs canada service dogs
gambler the blue heeler

In addition to these wonderful working dogs, the dogs that served alongside our military men and women are also recognized on this day.

It is estimated that more than 8 million animals sacrificed their lives to help humans in World War 1 alone. It’s believed that tens of thousands of horses, dogs, birds, and other animals have specifically served Canada and the Canadian military during times of war, helping with everything from transporting equipment and supplies, carrying messages, and saving troops under fire.


Here is a link to stories of some of the heroic animals (pigeons, and goats, and mules, oh my!) that have captured a place in Canadian history.

The Ontario SPCA has issued three new commemorative pins to recognize the "Animals of War". A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the pins is donated to the Royal Canadian Legion to support veterans.

ontario spca animals of war

No matter how busy our days are, it’s worth sparing a moment for all of those furry lives lost during conflict too.

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