STRAY TO SERVICE
from Shelter Dogs to Service Dogs
Stray to Service is a Pilot Program of the Dog and Cat Shelter in Sheridan, Wyoming.
THOSE AT WORK
RECENTLY PAIRED DOGS.
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My name is Paul Clark. I am a US Army Veteran and the partner of Boss, a Lab / Pit mix. Boss has always been by my side, even at times when I felt there was no one else. He helped me through my divorce, my transition out of the ARMY, my big move back to Wyoming, and times of fanatical uncertainty. He has helped me on a day to day basis with my PTSD and ongoing struggle with depression and alcoholism.
When my life unraveled in 2019, I found myself homeless and without the skills to continue through life. I admitted myself to an 8 week program at the Sheridan VA. The Dog and Cat Shelter found a foster for Boss under the agreement that he get neutered and get assessed for their “Stray to Service” pilot project.
As I went through the COD (Co-Occurring Disorder) program I had the opportunity to visit the shelter once a week. Boss would be at the Shelter waiting to greet me. Week by week things really started to look up and get better. Shan Foster, the Head Trainer for the Stray to Service Program started working with Boss, and eventually both of us. Shan offered six free lessons to determine if Boss and I could work together. Shan said it is extremely rare for a dog to move into Service if the he and the handler had a prior relationship. He was being honest about the (unlikely) probability of our success. He said it didn’t mean I had to give up Boss, but that I might need a different dog to be my Service animal. This is one of the many things that makes our relationship very special. Boss became my Service Dog!
Since then, I have finished my COD program and am in a transition home at the VA. In the meantime, Boss kept working and together, we have “graduated”. During COVID, only dogs that had ADA and ADI compliance training were allowed on campus as “Service Dogs”. Together, we proudly patrolled the gate while the VA was under quarantine.
The Sheridan Dog and Cat shelter saved my life. In the months following my situation, they took care of the only being that really meant something to me, so I could focus on my recovery. They gave me an actual purpose. If you look forward to something every day to get up and get out of bed, then your whole perspective changes. Shan gave me the tools that let Boss help me by guiding him in to the role of a Service Dog. Shan’s influence and training continue to this day.
This is the basic story of Boss and myself up till now. I look forward to our adventures together, being in public, and hopefully time working for the Dog and Cat Shelter.
Gilmore arrived as a stray from a neighboring Native American Reservation. We know he must have Blue Heeler but we're unsure as to where all the hair came from. His disposition was decidedly low key and his ability to perform as an Emotional Support Animal was immediately evident to all the staff! Marian from the Unleashed Foundation took Gilmore as a foster and worked with him everyday for 3 weeks. He learned all the basic obedience commands and house rules. She continued working with the family that adopted him for their 6 year old girl who required an ESA. Thanks to the Unleashed Foundation for working with our Stray to Service Program!
Jason is a Veteran who struggles with severe PTSD. Kya had been surrendered to the Dog and Cat Shelter in late 2019. Shan, the Head Trainer, immediately recognized her potential. She was in “Boot Camp” for 10 weeks when Jason entered the program. There was an immediate connection. Jason and Kya finished their training together at Shan's facility. At the end of April 2020 they passed all service dog requirements with flying colors. Jason recently sent a selfie of Kya sitting by his side while he was checking out at Walmart. Jason said it’s the first time he was able to go without a support person. He knows Kya has his back.
HOW TO APPLY
Fill out the application provided to the left.
Return to Either:
ADDRESS - 84 East Ridge Road
Sheridan, WY 82801
If you have any questions please call: 307-674-7694