Rescue Dogs Help Veterans Improve Mental Wellbeing

Over this summer, a number of ex-service personal will take part in a series of unique NHS-supported open water swimming sessions with award winning rescue dogs, to help them with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The four-hour sessions will take place at Stanton Lakes in Stoney Stanton, following a successful pilot held in September 2020. The veterans taking part will don wetsuits and take part in a series of relaxing floating and towing experiences in the water with the specially trained Newfoundland dogs, as part of the mental health support they are receiving from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s Armed Forces service.

The emotional support swimming dogs, Storm, Sonar, Walker, Bob and Ralph, excel in the water due to their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed paws and excellent swimming skills. The dog’s owner and trainer, Hinckley-based EMAS paramedic, Pete Lewin and his team will also be in the water. Earlier this year, the large pups, Pete and his team were crowned winners of The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award competition at Crufts 2022.

Pete has been offering the emotional support experience with his Newfoundlands for around seven years, but has been working with the breed for over 26 years. He said: “We work with schools, the emergency services, with people with disabilities and we are now doing more of this work with veterans. It is so rewarding and the results are brilliant. The dogs love it too”.

After the success of the pilot session, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s charity Raising Health secured £4,880 of funding from the Shire Community Grant, managed by Leicestershire County Council, to hold six more courses for those who have left the armed forces and need mental health support.

For more information about the sessions and other support available for veterans that is organised by Leicestershire Partnership Trust, please contact Brendan Daly on