From Shelter Dog to Service Dog:
How We Do It

Our mission at K9s For Camo is to provide service dogs to veterans in need at no cost, but as important, to also provide a framework within which both dogs and veterans are trained to work together as effective teams. We developed a system that ensures:

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Standards and evaluations for each step of the process.

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All of our trainers, both at Howliday Inn Pet Resort and the Ozark Correctional Center, are trained by K9s For Camo in canine behavioral training methodology.

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The K9 recruits are evaluated and tested at each step of the process for temperament, obedience and task training as they earn their American Kennel Club certifications and train to meet the K9s For Camo standards for task performance.

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K9s and veterans are trained together as a team.

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Our veterans have access to any ongoing guidance or training they may need throughout the service of the K9s For Camo service dog.

For veterans with a K9s For Camo service dog, instead of being the end of the process, the completion of training simply marks a new phase in our relationship with our K9 teams. We encourage our veterans to actively engage in our K9s For Camo community, to continue attending classes for reinforcement and to return to classes at any time if they need guidance. We are always available as a resource for questions or additional training throughout the service of our K9s For Camo.  

#1 Rescue

A shelter dog is identified as potentially having the temperament, or as our founder, John Lopez, calls it, “energy”, to become an effective service dog. This is perhaps the most critical step to maximize the rescue’s likelihood of long term success as a service dog. Inappropriate temperament and lack of aptitude can sometimes be masked by training, but usually only partially or temporarily. A dog with the appropriate temperament and aptitude not only is more likely to achieve success in training, but will achieve it much more quickly and perform more consistently throughout their service.

#2 Evaluation

Candidate dogs are transported to K9s For Camo’s home base, where experienced trainers further evaluate the K9s’ temperament and identify aptitudes for specific service tasks.

#3 Fit for Service

In addition to assessing the K9s’ temperament and aptitudes, we have veterinarians give K9s For Camo recruits a thorough medical exam to confirm they are healthy, physically able to perform his/her tour of duty and Fit For Service.

#4 Basic Training

K9s For Camo trainers continue temperament and aptitude assessment of K9 recruits as they begin obedience and home manners training, both at the facility and in trainers’ homes.

#5 Boot Camp

Offenders at the Ozark Correctional Center, trained members of the K9s For Camo team, provide intensive training for the K9s. They focus on task training and advanced obedience training as the K9s progress to AKC Canine Good Citizens certification.

#6 Advanced Certification

K9s return to home base, where trainers hone home manners and task skills, and complete training for AKC Community Canine and AKC Urban Canine certification, as well as K9s for Camo’s Public Access evaluation. The K9s stay in trainers’ homes and visit restaurants, stores, churches, medical facilities, offices and schools as they learn to respond appropriately to different stimuli and behave appropriately in diverse environments while performing the supportive tasks for their veteran.

#7 Report for Duty

K9s and their veterans are introduced and sent home with instructions for bonding and ongoing training, and are provided logs to track their home training regimen as they ready for Advanced Training.

#8 Advanced Training

K9s and their veterans attend weekly training sessions, building their bond by working through the AKC certification process, this time as a team.

#9 Service

Once the veteran and K9 team complete Advanced Training, the former shelter dog is now proudly…

SERVING ONE WHO SERVED US

Liberty Magill

Liberty is an Alaskan Malamute who was brought to our program by his veteran. Liberty started training as a puppy and has passed all classes with flying colors. He is task trained to bring his veteran his cane, if needed, and pick other items up off the ground and bring them to his veteran. He also is trained for mobility assistance and to help his veteran up if he falls down.

Serve proudly, Liberty! 

Lilly

Lilly is a black lab who was brought into the program by her veteran. She started the program as a puppy. This K9 and veteran team have passed their AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests. Lilly is trained to help with PTSD and is beginning to alert for blood sugar levels as well. She will post or block in public if her handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Lilly has been to college classes with her veteran and they both walked the stage together at graduation as her veteran received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Serve proudly, Lilly!

Jazzy

Jazzy is a Collie Mix who was brought into the program by her veteran. This K9 and veteran team have passed their AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests. Jazzy is trained to help her Vietnam veteran with mobility and stability and to help him keep from falling. She is task-trained to pause or stop when he approaches ramps or small changes in ground elevation that her veteran may not notice, alerting him and helping him navigate the terrain.

Serve proudly, Jazzy!

Liberty Evans

Liberty is a black lab  who was adopted from HFLCS Canine and Feline Rescue in Buffalo, Missouri. She was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become a seizure blocking dog for a Navy veteran; she cushions and comforts our veteran if she has a seizure, then finds and alerts our veteran’s husband. Liberty is also trained to help with PTSD: she has the ability to pick up and retrieve items, and turn lights on and off. She will post or block in public if her handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between herself and other people. Liberty trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. She has passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Liberty!

Tank

Tank is a Shar Pei Ridgeback mix who was adopted from Valley Hills Rescue in Springfield, Missouri. Valley Hills adopted him the day before he was due to be put to death. He was then adopted by K9s For Camo. Tank is task trained to pick up and bring medicine, turn on lights, open doors and assist with mobility. He is also trained to help mitigate the effects of PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Tank trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. He has passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests. He is currently serving well and proud!

Serve proudly, Tank!

Beretta

Beretta was rescued from death row due to having a condition that didn't allow her to open her eyes. She had inverted eyelids and could not see. Valley Hills Rescue rescued her and we adopted her from Valley Hills. After she had surgery to correct her eyes, she was task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert her veteran if someone is walking up behind him. She is also trained to help her veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Beretta! 

Cheyenne

Cheyenne is a hound mix who was adopted from HFLCS Canine and Feline Rescue in Buffalo, Missouri. She was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become an alert dog for a veteran with narcolepsy. Cheyenne is trained to wake her veteran if he falls asleep and will alert him if he begins to blackout while walking, preventing him from falling. She is also trained for PTSD and will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Cheyenne trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. She has passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Cheyenne!

Thistle May

Thistle was rescued from the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri. He started out in the Puppy for Parole program at Ozark Correctional Facility. We saw a lot of promise in him, so we transferred him to the K9s For Camo program. He is task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert his veteran if someone is walking up behind him. He is also task trained to help his veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Thistle!

Moose

Moose is a blood hound mix who was adopted from Valley Hills Rescue in Springfield, Missouri. Valley Hills adopted him just a few days before he would have been put to death. He was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become a stability dog for a Vietnam veteran. Moose is also trained to help with PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Moose did training at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. He has passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Moose!

Chase

Chase is an American Bulldog mix who was adopted from Valley Hills Rescue in Springfield, MO. Valley Hills adopted him the day before he was supposed to be euthanized. He was then adopted by K9s For Camo. Chase has been trained to pick up and bring medicine, turn on lights and open doors. He is also trained to help mitigate effects of PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Chase trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at Ozark Correctional Center. He has passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification test and is fully task trained. He will currently finishing his advanced classes with his Veteran. 

Serve proudly Chase!

Annie

Annie is a black lab mix who was adopted from HFLCS in Buffalo MO. She was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become a battle buddy for one of our returning heroes. Annie is also trained to help with PTSD; she has the ability to pick up items, turn lights on and off, and will bring her leash and other items to her veteran, who is in a mobility chair. She will post or block in public if her handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Annie trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at Ozark Correctional Center. She has passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Annie!

Opha Mae

Opha Mae was named after the first ever female Marine. She was rescued from Valley Hills Rescue. She has been task trained for PTSD and will start her training for diabetic alert in the upcoming months!

Serve proudly, Opha Mae!

Mytchal

Mytchal is a German Shepherd who was brought into our program by his veteran. He is being  trained to help mitigate the effects PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between herself and other people. 

Mytchal is serving proudly!

Calypso

Calypso is a German Shepherd brought to the program by his veteran. She has been task trained to help mitigate the effects of PTSD and is in training to help with mobility, balance, and picking up items for her vet.

Serve proudly, Calypso! 

Remington

Remington was rescued from Valley Hills Rescue.  He is task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert his veteran if someone is walking up behind him. He is also task trained to help his veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Remington! 

Sasha

Sasha was rescued from the Humane Society.  She is task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert her veteran if someone is walking up behind him. She is also task trained to help her veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Sasha! 

Avalanche

Avalanche was rescued from HFLCS Rescue. He is trained to help with mitigating the effects of PTSD and also for balance and stability. 

Serve proudly, Avalanche!