VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A company based in Virginia Beach is hoping to help veterans find a new purpose through dog training.
Business partners Don Miller and Mountain Sanz are both veterans of the U. S. Marine Corps.
They said immediately when they got out of the military they noticed a difference in how they felt and wanted to continue helping people. Eventually, they found their way to dog training.
They say it’s changed — and saved — their lives. Now, they’re hoping to help other veterans in the same way.
“I had some pretty severe anxiety coming back and some PTSD and over the last 5, 6 years just doing this … the focus is no longer on me, it’s on the dogs,” Sanz said.
Sanz says training with Tanto, a working dog, has saved his life.
“If this dog can get over his fear or his anger, then maybe I can too,” he said.
Tanto is just one of the dogs he and Miller, his business partner, have worked with in the last few months at their business, the Dog Wizard, in Virginia Beach.
“It was my way of sort of giving back,” Sanz said. “Training dogs that were going out on the street finding bombs, finding drugs, biting bad guys and … the working dog aspect kind of took over,” said Sanz.
Sanz quickly learned there were people in need of help with pet dogs, and veterans in need of purpose.
Miller said going from protecting another living being in a combat situation to living in the civilian world can present a challenge: the sense of purpose some feel in the military sometimes disappears in civilian life.
“Figuring out another way to accomplish that sense of purpose is important,” said Miller.
It can save lives.
“The 22 [veteran suicides] a day is a real thing. I got out about six years ago and I’ve lot 12 friends to suicide in those last six years,” said Sanz.
Creating a sense of community for veterans is what Sanz and Miller hope for.
“We’re pretty big. I think any veterans are pretty big activists on helping keeping each other alive,” added Sanz.
Sanz and Miller are looking for any veteran who is willing to learn and work hard. Those interested can find more information here