What happens when veterans return from the war but they’re broken in body and soul? They’re clinically diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) but how they get through that journey varies. So, when three-tour veteran of the Iraq wars, Jim Stanek, discovered that a dog could help him through it, he and his wife launched Paws & Stripes to rescue condemned dogs and pair them with veterans who need a partner in the process. A&E will premiere their new series about their story, Dogs of War, tonight at 10 p.m. [Watch the preview here.]
The first episode features Michael, a vet who has been struggling with PTSD for ten years, with night terrors, jumping at noises, and paranoia about who is behind him. So when he meets the Staneks, he begins the process of being paired with a dog, a lovable rescue named Tenessee, and the training that follows for both of them. The first step is that Michael renames the dog with the Cherokee word for “my six,” the first movement toward Michael recognizing that someone has his back.
The healing that happens works between humans and dogs, but it also occurs when Michael gets some tough love from someone who has been there before, Jim Stanek. It’s not instantaneous change, not ‘done’ and finished, but it’s a real-world healing that takes place, thanks to some brothers looking out for each other, some families recognizing their veterans’ needs, and some canine friends who need a place to call their own just like the vets.
The episode I previewed was powerful. I’m no big animal person, but the impact of the Tennesse/My Six on Michael? It’s undeniable, poignant, and hopeful. As far as Veterans Day tributes go, this is a great place to start.
The show moves to Sundays, starting on November 16.