DEUCE is a chocolate Labrador retriever who knows exactly which patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington give the best treats, said his owner, Harvey Naranjo. Both he and Deuce are part of the Military Advanced Training Center, a department at Walter Reed that cares for severely disabled veterans.
A certified therapy dog, Deuce assists with rehabilitation and helps relieve stress. He excels at both, said Mr. Naranjo, who brought him to the center three years ago to help the growing number of severely disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Medical technology has given us the opportunity to save more lives with this conflict, but they are surviving devastating injuries," said Mr. Naranjo, adaptive sports program coordinator and a certified occupational therapy assistant at Walter Reed.
Encouraged by Deuce's success with patients, Mr. Naranjo contacted accredited service dog organizations and learned that several had started programs specifically for recent veterans. "These soldiers are a very young population; they do not want canes or crutches," said Mr. Naranjo, who is also a specialist in the Army Reserve.