The Best Therapists Have Fur and Four Legs

A Veteran with his best friend

Our Founder, Mick Cairns

I am a Royal Marine Veteran with personal experience of living with PTSD.

I suffered a breakdown in February 2019 and was signed off from work. My rescue dog, Sam, who was a bit of a handful when I got him but has turned out to be an amazing dog, looked into my eyes and gave me a reaction that I'd never seen before. He became an assistance dog for me that day, with no training, just a sixth sense guiding him to my needs. He changed my life for the better and was an integral part of my treatment for PTSD and Anankastic Personality Disorder (perfectionist personality disorder). We got through it together and my journey to learn more about dogs and how they can improve mental health began. As part of my recovery I trained as a PTSD Assistance Dog Trainer.

The transition from military life to civilian life can be difficult and can lead to a variety of mental health conditions. When I talk about the veteran community, I count the immediate family in this; they live your ups and downs with you, worrying about you when you are away in war zones and worrying beside you when you are struggling with life. I know for certain, I wouldn't have coped without the support of my family, especially my wife.  I want to give something back to the families, they deserve support too.

I am passionate not only about helping veterans and their families, but also combating the stigma around mental health, which is still prevalent in today's society.

I am a family man, I have 5 kids and a wonderful wife called Maura. They are the ones I enjoy spending my spare time with (and my furry family too, obviously!). I recently got greedy and got the most beautiful German Shepherd puppy named Sasha who again is so important to me and my mental well-being.

I wanted people to feel the same emotions I feel when I am with my dogs, and benefit from their healing powers as I have, so in September 2020 I formed A Veteran's Best Friend.  We are staffed entirely by volunteers and rely completely on donations - with your help we can start training our Assistance dogs and veterans in 2021.

Our Mission

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Professional dog trainers partner veterans with rescue dogs, providing training and support on an ongoing basis.

A dog can help ease anxiety, loneliness, depression and PTSD.

Pet ownership encourages love and acceptance, companionship, responsibility, interaction and exercise.

We are honoured to provide this service to any veteran in Scotland

Every dog paired with a Veteran is from a shelter, rescue, or in need of rehoming from a private individual, giving a him or her a second chance at a new life with tremendous purpose as a Veteran's Best Friend.

Meet The Team

Treasurer

Alison Kershaw-Stevenson
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Dog Training Lead/Ambassador

Rod Stoddart MBE
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Chair

Mick Cairns