Man's best friend serves those who served our country

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Many celebrated Veteran's Day this weekend, but one four-legged friend serves those who served our country every day.

The holiday is always on Nov. 11, but since it fell on a Sunday this year, many people observed the holiday on Monday.

Man’s best friend shows his appreciation for veterans every day by helping cheer them up and even assist in their physical therapy.

“Graham" has been at the Eastern Kentucky Veteran's Center in Hazard for two years and residents said they are glad to have him.

“He is kind of our mascot,” said 67-year-old James Gordon “Jim” Smith, a United States Air Force Veteran.

The Golden Labrador/Retriever mix has been helping veterans for the past two years.

Two-year-old Graham is a Canine Companion for Independence. Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that pairs pups with people with disabilities.

Residents said he knows how to show his appreciation for them.

“He licks! He licks and any time you hold your hand down to him he will lick your hand,” said Bob Madon, a United States Air Force Veteran.

Madon, the former Pineville Mayor, is just one of those who Graham cheers up daily.

“He enjoys the residents, they say he will just go to any person, look how he has made a friend with me,” said World War II Navy Veteran Ervin Whitaker.

Whitaker chuckled as Graham came up on his lap.

Many said Graham is a perfect example of man's best friend. They said he can do what some humans cannot.

“The residents here, a few of them that wasn't acknowledging much, but that dog, it just seems like it brings the life out of them,” said Whitaker.

Whitaker and other said the bed-ridden veterans who could not get out seemed to benefit the most.

“I mean they are laying there in bed and he goes in and sees them, it really means a lot to them you know,” said Smith.
“It is like a visit from the family, which a lot of times they don't get… but they get Graham.”

They said Graham made them believe in pet therapy.

“If he even helps one person, it is well worth it I think,” said Whitaker.

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