BANDERA, Texas - When you watch Brice Cavanaugh and his 15-year-old dog "monk,” It's almost like they can read each other's minds. Cavanaugh is a former marine and K9 trainer, but four years ago a client changed his life.
"I had a client come to me and say, 'One of your dogs saved my brother's life,'” Cavanaugh said. “I did not realize this, but that person was suffering from PTSD. The dog helped him out with accountability and the companionship. He said it made him stop from committing suicide."
That meeting led to Cavanaugh's calling. He runs the non-profit service dog-training program called "Operation Overwatch."
Cavanaugh teaches service men and women with PTSD to work with therapy dogs. The bond between the two can lead to a special type of healing.
“We [military members] are used to working with a team and being part of a mission,” Cavanaugh added. “These dogs help provide that. That's why we selected the name Operation Overwatch."
Operation Overwatch's motto is "healing at both ends of the leash." The healing is not only for the men and women in the program, but for the rescue dogs as well.
"When a dog is in a kennel or somewhere without anybody,” Cavanaugh said. "You can see their sole is gone sometimes. They are pack animals. They are meant to be social animals."
As both ends of the leash heal during that Operation Overwatch, something amazing can happen.
"What's really the coolest part is when either the dog or human have that "ah ha" moment,” Cavanaugh added. “When the handler identifies the dogs needs are being met, there's a bond relationship and love there and they get that. It's really just cool because we're trying to create a symbiotic relationship."