Louisville Magazine

AUG 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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78 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.18 Dorsett tells Benson that story when the men meet at Bass Pro Shops in Clarksville, Indiana. It's one of the 10 dog-training sessions each veteran goes through to win service-dog certification. Dorsett says his dog, Lyric, has already changed his life in the month he's had her. "It's really boosted my confidence going back out in public and going out in bigger areas like this," Dorsett says, gesturing around the cavernous and noisy store. "Before her, I didn't like going out. Panic attacks would spike." e training sessions are designed to bring both handler and dog into increasingly challenging situations, so that Lyric is prepared for whatever comes up and Dorsett experiences their competence as a team. Today, one challenge is the store's pounding waterfall, something Lyric hasn't seen before. e object is to help the dogs adjust to new things in a non- confrontational way. First, they walk up to the waterfall, then away. Benson explains what they're doing: "If you take them right up, then they have to deal with it full throttle. at's too much. But if you walk up and walk away, it takes the pressure off. It allows a brief introduction to noise, sound and smell, but there's a quick exit." Within 15 minutes, Lyric is able to hold a "sit-stay" right next to the waterfall, waiting for Dorsett to call her. In another exercise, Dorsett pitches his floppy gray hat for Lyric to retrieve. It takes a few tries with little corrections before she executes it perfectly, shaking the hat like it's her prey. Benson wants Dorsett to understand what just happened. "e big teaching piece here is increments," Benson tells Dorsett. "You just keep putting all the pieces together." During training, Benson says, "I want her to be successful. I want it to work, so if I've got to get in there — even if you would have had to walk all the way back to the hat and actually point at it, you do whatever you have to do to get it completed, to make it successful." Dorsett is delighted. "She just did better right there then she has done the Skyler Dorsett and Lyric still very hypervigilant, but I know I have my buddy with me. I consider him my battle buddy. He gets me through." Skyler Dorsett, a father of two with a tousle of curly hair, couldn't believe his good luck when Benson called. When he applied to Dogs Helping Heroes, in the back of his mind were the Belgian Malinois dogs used by the U.S. Special Operations Command teams during his second deployment in Iraq in 2013-'14. "I instantly wanted a Malinois. I just fell in love with them," he says. But when he said that to one of the military dog handlers, they discouraged him. "If you don't have any training, and you don't know how to do any training, I wouldn't recommend getting one." e Malinois, which looks like a lean German shepherd but with ears big enough to hear signals from extra-terrestrials, are known for their high drive, confidence and need for work and exercise. Dorsett figured he'd probably be just as happy with another breed, but he loved those dogs. en Benson said Dorsett's new dog would be a Belgian Malinois. "I about did a back flip!" Dorsett says

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