STV – Dog helps veteran through PTSD

Bravehound Bracken and veteran Jimmy Church.

Reporting by Clare McNeill – STV 17 September 2018

A veteran suffering from PTSD has said a dog given to him by a charity which supports ex-servicemen and women has changed his life.

Jimmy Church from Glasgow served in the armed forces for 16 years.

Yet he wasn’t aware of how his experience had affected him until the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder really took hold.

“I was OK for a long time. But then I started feeling different and didn’t realise there was anything wrong with me,” Jimmy explains.

man plays with spaniel dog in park

Jimmy and Bracken

“I was very alone. I had two failed marriages as well but not realising that these were some of the aspects of PTSD.”

Jimmy said he wanted to avoid people and even rearranged his home as a result.

“It got to the stage where I’d moved all my furniture, my bed, my sofa, my TV, and a big coffee maker into the one room in the house. Closed the doors closed the windows.

“My neighbour thought I had moved out two years earlier until one day she saw me moving.

“I started doing my shopping in the middle of the night, it’s all avoidance and stuff.

“I just wasn’t functioning as a person.”

Jimmy was referred to the Bravehound charity, based in Erskine, who provides dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Bravehound’s dogs are there to give their owner a sense of purpose, encourage them to get out of the house and provide them with 24 hour companionship.

“Sometimes I go into a dark mood, dark places. And Bracken seems to sense these things so she comes up and cuddles into me as if to say everything’s going to be ok.”

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