Service dogs helping change the lives of military veterans

Scott McCaig believes his life was transformed two years ago after being paired with golden retriever Paisley.

A Scots charity that pairs service dogs with military veterans struggling with physical and mental health issues is launching a new campaign to help more people get their own support dog.

The Back a Bravehound campaign is being fronted by TV presenter Carol Smilie, who is urging Scots to donate to help former Army, Navy and RAF personnel.

Former Army Staff Sergeant Scott McCaig served in the military for 27 years, completing tours in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

But his years of service took a toll; he was medically discharged in 2016 and diagnosed with acute PTSD.

Scott underwent various therapies to help – but his life was transformed two years ago when he was paired with golden retriever Paisley, an assistance dog, through the Scottish charity.

Scott, who live near Forres, said: “The last flashback I had was in July last year. I was back in Afghanistan. Sights, sounds, smells. This was as real, as vivid as it could get.

“I remember my legs were twitching. But Paisley was lying on top of me, effectively like a big weighted blanket, holding me down. I am able to get back my independence because of her.”

Bravehound founder Fiona MacDonald said: “The big thing is companionship. That’s the most important thing our dogs do.

“If you are feeling anxious, having a dog that will come and put its head on your knee and say, ‘hey, it’s ok you are not on your own’ – that’s the most important thing they can do.”

Scott worked with specialists at Bravehound to help train Paisley and said she gives him love and support every day.

He said: “I am now classed as Severely Mentally Impaired, or SMI. I will never work again, I am fully medically retired. To remain medicated forevermore.

“If it wasn’t for Paisley, I wouldn’t be able to leave the house.”

Find out more about the Back a Bravehound Crowdfunder here.

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