Northwest Battle Buddies

A group of dogs are in training in Cody. They go downtown, to parks, and to the Center of the West. They look a little strange walking in single file with their handlers. But, they are getting ready for serious business: saving veterans lives with love.
When the uniformed golden retrievers, Valor, Rebel, Patriot, and Rosie walk by in single file, people notice, and smile. But, the dogs don’t notice. They are learning to heel, sit, lay down, and be almost invisible. They are trained to ignore everything but the veteran they protect. They even turn away from n food. They are Battle Buddies.
Northwest Battle Buddies Trainer Chris Walker explained, “We can put food down, and they ignore it. Or if we walk into a restaurant, and there’s food on the floor, they ignore it.”
Walker said the dogs even ignore other dogs that come after them.
He remembered, “There was a cocker spaniel that came running up the elevator. And the owner of the cocker spaniel had a vest on it, and a flexi-lead. That Cocker Spaniel came and went to attack our dogs…..not a single one of our dogs responded.”
Walker said the four litter mates are18 months old. They are about to enter their next phase of training: public transportation. Then, the dogs are paired up with veterans who have PTSD, or brain injuries. They train with them. They’ll eventually allow the veterans to get back out in the world.
“And these dogs, through time, will sense when they get stressed, and the dogs will come up and nudge them, and bring them back to reality. A lot of veterans will try not to go to sleep because of the nightmares they have. Well the dogs see them having a nightmare and wake them up.”
Walker said the dogs have brought many veterans back from the brink.
He said, “We’ve had veterans come up and say, “If there was a day I was going to commit suicide, it would have been this night, but I didn’t, because I didn’t know what would happen to my dog. Then you have those veterans that hand us that round that has their initials on it, and saying that they don’t need it any more.”
But the puppies that will become the life saving dogs, like six month old Six, need foster homes. The Puppy Coordinator, Jona Vanata said the organization pays for food, and veterinary care.
The foster home provides the magic ingredient the dogs will later give to the combat veterans they protect: love.
“No financial burden, just being able to love and socialize them.”
Vanata said the program is expanding in Northwest Wyoming because, “The need is so great.”
Northwest Battle Buddies gives the dogs to combat veterans for free. And, some of the dogs come from shelters. You can find out more about the program at