Dog trainer bonds wounded men with man's best friend - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Dog trainer bonds wounded men with man's best friend

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- A Jeffersonville dog trainer witnessed the wounds of war from within his own family.

Since then, he's used his unique talent of bonding injured men with man's best friend.

"Inability to sleep, nightmares," described wounded veteran Kyle Lankford.

Lankford's life changed forever on December 22, 2008. He was in Iraq when a roadside bomb hit his armored vehicle.  He walked away with a traumatic brain injury, epilepsy and bulged discs in his back causing him to lose feeling in his right leg. He came home from war a broken man.

One dog, named Cash, has helped turn life around

"Now I can actually go to restaurants and businesses and meet people," he said.  

In fact, Cash has helped heal the entire Lankford family.

"He has definitely given Kyle his freedom back and in turn giving me my freedom back to be a wife not just a caregiver," explained Lankford's wife, Dawn Lankford.

David Benson of Duffy's Dog Training in Jeffersonville trained the black Labrador Retriever. It took about 4 months.

"He actually helps him up out of the chair for stabilization," described Benson.

Cash also acts as a cushion if Kyle were to fall. It can happen frequently with his leg injury.

And there's one more thing: Cash offers comfort. A crowded grocery store or airplane is now manageable.

"As soon as they get emotionally uncomfortable at all they can refocus their time energy and effort on their dog which relaxes them in very busy situations," Benson said.

Benson's training efforts are being recognized. He was given The Order of the Purple Heart Patriot Award.

"I do this for the love of the dogs the love of these guys for everything they contribute to this country," he said.  

And he does it so guys like Lankford regain some sense of independence.

"He really gives me the freedom to be a husband, be a father, be a citizen and participate in things that other people take for granted," said Lankford.

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