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Canine caregivers bring comfort to Ukrainian soldiers

Saturday, September 05, 2015 - 01:13

A joint Ukrainian-Canadian project uses dog therapy to help rehabilitate Ukrainian soldiers who have returned from the frontline in the country's east. Pavithra George reports.

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It's not all belly rubs and cuddles for these dogs in Kiev. They are part of a Canadian-led project called Hero's Companion that trains dogs to assist and comfort Ukrainian soldiers, wounded after fighting in the country's pro-Russian separatist regions. Program director Kalyna Kardash said she got the idea after noticing battalions in the field adopting dogs and cats. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HERO'S COMPANION PROGRAM DIRECTOR, KALYNA KARDASH, SAYING: "It was obvious that there was some kind of a connection between the soldiers and the dogs or the cats on the front there. So I thought why not take that connection and use it to our advantage in the rehabilitation setting?" The project serves many soldiers at the military hospital in Kiev where these canine caregivers have become an instant hit. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UKRAINIAN SERVICEMAN, VASYL, SAYING: "It is very positive. I don't have a dog at home, but I can pat it, play a little with the dog, scratch it, hear its voice, feel it's paw. It is very nice." Many of the soldiers here suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but are hesitant to get professional help. The project's founders hope the therapy dogs can provide some comfort -- as these men start the long process of rehabilitation.

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Canine caregivers bring comfort to Ukrainian soldiers

Saturday, September 05, 2015 - 01:13