Former Army captain using animal therapy to cope, recover
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
You've heard them called man's best friend. And while it may sound cliché, that adage is never more appropriate for the countless men and women who rely on them as a way of life.
They're called service dogs, and they play a vital role in assisting people who otherwise might not be able to perform routine activities. Many times they're available for individuals with disabilities, and one former Army captain's dog redefines the term 'loyalty."
This probably isn't what Tuesdays typically look like to you. But for Luis Montalvan, Tuesday, his golden retriever, has meant the world to him since he returned from combat in Iraq in 2007.
"After a couple of difficult tours, I was physically and psychologically wounded ," said Captain Luis Montalvan, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Montalvan left the Army to get help, and heard about the wonders animal therapy could provide. Now, he can't say enough about Tuesday.
"Being able to regain my life. Being able to leave my apartment, being able to go to school and work and all the things that people want to do," said Montalvan.
As Montalvan's service dog, Tuesday is constantly by his side, helping him balance and pick up objects. He can even remind him to take medication.
"He keeps me in the moment so that really help me from having flashbacks ," said Montalvan.
On this day, Montalvan is in Sioux City at the S.T.A.R.S. riding barn. S.T.A.R.S. stands for Special Troopers Adaptive Riding school. It's a program that utilizes animals to provide therapy to patients. This time, Montalvan is watching participants in the equine therapy program.
"It's wonderful that programs like S.T.A.R.S. is helping veterans, people with disabilities and their families overcome and get well on their pathway to recovery ," said Montalvan
He's also taking the time with Tuesday to meet and greet some of their other animal friends.
So, Montalvan wanted to ride one himself.
"I really felt great connecting with Brownie and feeling like a team," said Montalvan.
After trotting alongside Montalvan, Tuesday decided to try riding the horse himself. And Tuesday's success is a victory for Montalvan as well.
"For dogs, we made our pack larger, and Brownie became a part of our pack and that was really wonderful," said Montalvan.
Montalvan spoke at a S.T.A.R.S. fundraiser at the Marina Inn in South Sioux City, Nebraska.
He's already written books on his story, and soon a movie will be released about his tales with Tuesday.