I had the pleasure of meeting Valentine and his Mom, Amanda, at my Photo Shoot Fundraiser for Alachua County Humane Society. The event was held at Swamp Head Brewery and was so popular that it sold out a month in advance. We already have another Pet Photo Shoot Fundraiser scheduled for June, 25th.
Valentine’s Mom, had very specific needs when it came to what dog would be best suited for her. You see, Amanda has PTSD and was looking for a companion that could help her.
Amanda spent months in shelters meeting many different dogs, but she knew she had to find the right one. Some were fearful or too high energy, so Amanda took to Craigslist, which is where she met Valentine. “I feel that it is important to save the lives of animals posted to Craigslist as well as those in shelters. Pit bulls listed on this website are often bought and used for fighting or backyard breeding.”
Once Amanda and Valentine go to know each other better, she contacted Victoria Warfel, owner of Dream Dogz Behavior Center of Gainesville. Valentine completed a 4-5 week board & train experience where he learned obedience and public access. Valentine also earned the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and The Assistance Dogs International Public Access certification.
Valentine has very specific duties
Valentine alerts Amanda by licking, nudging, or giving a little whimper when she starts to express certain symptoms of her disabilities. He will also alert her if there is an exterior trigger in the vicinity, like loud noises, yelling, anger, people moving fast or aggressively, to remind her that he is there and that everything is going to be okay.
Valentine also helps with deescalation, which is needed when Amanda is experiencing the full and severe symptoms of her disability, like panic attacks. Valentine will utilize a skill known as Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) to interrupt these symptoms.
Grounding is used if Amanda is disassociated from reality or zoning out. Valentine will remind her through DPT or licking, that her body exists and that she should remain within it.
Blocking is when he stands or walks between Amanda and other people, keeping them at a safe distance and reaffirming psychological barriers.
Today, Valentine is a fully-qualified PTSD and Psychiatric Service Dog. Valentine and his Mom are always training and always learning new things together as a team. Amanda says it is really important that they show the world what the Pit Bull is really capable when it comes to temperament and compassion, which I totally agree with, which is why I started the Pit Bull Picture Project.
Amanda has future plans to have Valentine become an animal assisted therapy dog with young children. He loves to lick their sticky fingers. You can also follow Valentine on Instagram.