Since 2012 a number of assistance dogs have been trained for, and matched to, military veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in support of their treatment and daily life. In 2017 I have taken the initiative to start an extensive research programme on the beneficial relationship between dog and man at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in the Netherlands. Initial results and scientific publications have given clear evidence how important these assistance dogs are to people suffering from PTSD.
In addition, in 2019 I have supervised a research project done at the Netherlands Defense Academy, titled ‘Dogs with a mission’, on the use of dogs to reduce combat and operational stress in deployed military personnel and possibly to reduce the onset of PTSD. The results of this project were certainly indicative to this effect.
In 2020, we completed a pilot study at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to promote the access of people and their assistance dogs to hospitals and health care. Results indicate that dog paws are indeed considerably cleaner than shoe soles (Link The Conversation).
As a true highlight, together with several colleagues, we provided the veterinary support during the Invictus Games in The Hague 2022. In the picture below together with the Dutch athlete Joyce van den Waardenburg.