Dogs with a heart

Pets / February 16, 2017

Service dogs provide much-needed peace of mind

For Angie Hoaglin’s clients, dogs are far more than just pets — they provide much-needed peace of mind.

Hot Springs resident Angie Hoaglin is currently in her fifth year of running

Angie Hoaglin and Max

Angie Hoaglin and Max

Pathways to Peace, an organization that trains service dogs for military veterans and civilians with pertinent needs. Her service has reached clients across the United States, as well as within her community.

The Hoaglins’ organization was born from the needs of her husband, Daniel Hoaglin, prior to moving to the Spa City. While the Hoaglins lived in New York, Daniel Hoaglin needed to cope with psychological trauma after his second tour of service in Iraq, but didn’t want to add a service dog to the dogs that they already owned.

“We went through a lot of different organizations trying to get a service dog, but they all wanted to pair me with a service dog that they trained,” Daniel

Hoaglin said. “We lived on a farm at the time, and we couldn’t bring another dog in.”

Although the Hoaglins didn’t want to add another dog to the ones they already owned, Angie Hoaglin did say that she and her husband noticed the positive difference that service dogs made in the lives of others.

“We saw other veterans having service dogs, and we saw that their condition improved,” she said.

Instead of giving in to their dilemma, the Hoaglins decided to pursue learning how to train their own dogs for service purposes. Daniel Hoaglin said that he and his wife partnered with Johnny New Hope Inc., an organization that works

Daniel Hoaglin and Jake

Daniel Hoaglin and Jake

with veterans, to learn how to train dogs for veterans’ assistance. He said that they sent his wife to Florida, where she was taught how to train the dogs.

From the training received from Johnny New Hope Inc., Angie Hoaglin began training dogs for the service of others. This training turned into Pathways to Peace in 2012.

According to Daniel Hoaglin, since its formation, the organization has put together 14 “teams,” which are the pairing of a person in need with a service dog, in this country. Angie Hoaglin listed places such as Florida, California

and their home state of New York as locations of such “teams.”

Both Angie and Daniel Hoaglin described Pathways to Peace as a family run effort. The organization’s tasks are divided between the couple and their son, Salem, who trains the dogs, Angie Hoaglin, who serves as the organization’s civilian liaison, and Daniel Hoaglin, who serves as the organization’s military liaison.

Daniel Hoaglin explained his role in the organization as providing a clear form of communication for the veterans. He said that military veterans have a unique set of struggles and way of talking, and that as a veteran himself, he is able to speak to them about their service dog better than someone who doesn’t have any experience in the line of duty.

“They have a really hard time talking to civilians about either the problems they have, because they don’t want to be perceived as weaker than they are or less than they are, and they have a hard time getting some civilians to understand what they went through,” Daniel Hoaglin said of the veterans. “I’m the person that they call at three in the morning because they’re having a rough day. I’m the one that bails them out while they’re going through the process.”

Jesse Hancock, a Hot Springs veteran who served two tours in Iraq, said that he has greatly benefited from the Hoaglins’ services. He mentioned that having his service dog Odin, a sturdily built red-nosed Pitbull, allows him to do things that his post-traumatic stress disorder would otherwise not allow him to do.

Jesse Hancock and Odin

Jesse Hancock and Odin

He described the companionship as “almost like having your psychiatrist with you sometimes.”

“From time to time, when I need to go places, I can go certain places,” Jesse Hancock said of the peace of mind that Odin gives him. “When I don’t have him and we go to those certain places, the family just ends up doing whatever without me because I just avoid the situation.”

Jesse Hancock’s wife, Amber, said that owning Odin does present her and her husband with a whole new set of responsibilities, such as getting ready for things earlier and letting him relieve himself before taking him into places. However, she said that Odin’s presence puts her at ease about her husband’s disposition.

“We take him wherever he needs to go. I feel a little bit safer — not for me, but just for his frame of mind,” Amber Hancock said.

Angie Hoaglin said that going forward, she would like to see more assistance from outside individuals with her organization. She said that she and her husband are currently at maximum capacity with training dogs.

“We definitely could use interns or fosters in our program to help facilitate more outreach,” Angie Hoaglin said.

Overall, Angie Hoaglin is pleased with Hot Springs’ reaction to her organization.

“We had really good, positive reactions when we first came here,” she said. “There wasn’t a huge familiarity with service dogs, but there definitely was an acceptance and a welcoming for the most part.”

Photography by Mara Kuhn

Lindsey Wells

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