New Penn medical school program matches service dogs with veterans

The program will bring a therapeutic service dog training program to veterans on campus.

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Thursday, November 17, 2022
New Penn program matches service dogs with veterans
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"They pick up stress signals, and with that, they can tackle whatever that veteran is going through," said Paula, who leads the university's veterans care excellence program.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A new program at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania aims to improve the lives of veterans, both on staff and in the community through service animals, like four-month-old Mosko.

Mosko is a playful pup undergoing some serious training.

"The dogs have a connection with us," said Jennifer Desher, a trainer with Warrior Canine Connection. "It's almost like they can see through you."

The program will bring a therapeutic service dog training program to veterans on campus, like Paula Crawford-Gamble.

"They pick up stress signals, and with that, they can tackle whatever that veteran is going through," said Paula, who leads the university's veterans care excellence program.

A 25-year Navy veteran herself, Paula knows firsthand how powerful a partner pup can be in helping veterans cope with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

"That's why they're so dynamic. Their sense of smell can pick up anything," she said.

Her new service dog, Dolly, is already helping her.

"Even when we're walking in the street, she knows I have problems with vision on the left-hand side and she'll stay on the left-hand side and take care of that for me," she said.

Part of what makes every dog in Warrior Canine Connection so special is how they're all named after a veteran. It helps pay honor to that person while also building a connection with the veteran they're matched with.

"That's the least we can do to show support and show that it means something," said Jennifer.

Mosko is named for Lt. Christopher Mosko, a Penn ROTC grad who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012. His namesake lives on in the pup, who will surely make a difference.

"They save lives, it's as simple as that," said Crawford-Gamble.