Monday, July 19, 2010

Holly to Help with Healing

A little over two years ago, Chaplain Donald Twist’s life took a turn he was not expecting. During a training mission in preparation for deployment, a near-death drowning that left him questioning many things, including his faith. The last couple of years have been long, trying and tense.

Balancing healing, family life with his wife Denise and their two children, and a U.S. Navy career as a Chaplain, it all has been too much for Donald at times. The mobility issues he has experienced have paled in comparison to the issues exhibited by the post traumatic stress disorder. Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, difficulty being in crowds and feelings of isolation have compounded Donald’s ability to heal his mind and body.

Last December, two years post injury, Chaplain Twist made a conscience decision to change some things in his life and to move forward. That day, he placed a call to Carolina Canines for Service to ask about a service dog. Initially, asking if we might consider trying his dog, and then learning that is not something our organization did, Donald submitted application for a service dog from Carolina Canines for Veterans. Some months went by, and the call finally arrived that Donald was waiting for. A dog was ready for him and team training was scheduled.

Chaplain Twist met service dog Holly and he knew instantly, this was the dog he had prayed for. Perfect for him in many ways, she looked more like a Labrador retriever then her other possible mixes (Greyhound or Great Dane), was not too large and was short hair.  Holly came from local Wilmington rescue, Tails U Win

Donald embarked on an intense week of training to learn how to work with Holly and begin their bonding process.   On the second full day of training, Donald took Holly back to his hotel with him for the night. During team training, this is when the real bonding begins to happen, when the person and the dog have to rely on each other. The next morning, Donald shared that he experienced his first nightmare free sleep in over two years.

The week of team training has been exhausting, even though Donald has slept better the last few nights with Holly near him, then he has in over two years. He has enjoyed his experience team training with Holly, meeting her military prison handlers and looks forward to her working with him in his home and his duties as a Chaplain. Donald jokingly says, “Holly has a codependent personality disorder and I am completely fine with that.”

No comments: