Dan Van Buskirk & Linda Bobot on Forging Sacred Relationships with Service Dogs



After serving in the Marine Corps on the Reconnaissance team during the Vietnam War, Dan Van Buskirk dedicated his life to helping military veterans transition back to civilian life and develop healthy coping skills to heal from the emotional trauma they experienced after war. Dan is the founder of the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, HAVEN – Hounds and Vets Empowered Now, where he helps military veterans find the support they need through the beneficial relationships forged with dogs. Dan is also an active member of Guitars for Vets, an organization devoted to helping veterans cope with post-war trauma through the healing power of music.

Linda Bobot is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with over 20 years of experience in training service dogs and therapy dogs as well as beloved pets. Linda is the Executive Director and Lead Trainer at HAVEN and is responsible for teaching veterans how to train their personal dogs to become service dogs. With an extensive family history of military veterans, which includes her father and brother, Linda is passionate about helping veterans and their loved ones cope with trauma and find comfort in the love, hope, and assistance that service dogs provide.

Dan and Linda join us today to discuss the sacred connection and relationship between veterans and their dogs. Dan shares how dogs were used to detect traps and enemy fire in combat and how they became valuable members of military teams. They discuss how dogs can help veterans take control of their emotions, responses, and expectations. and how dogs help veterans diffuse powerful negative emotions like feeling inadequate and survivor’s guilt. They also discuss the dog selection process that takes place between veterans and their service dogs, how our dogs reflect our feelings and emotions, and how HAVEN helps veterans choose the perfect dog for their needs.

“The relationship between a veteran and their dog is almost a sacred experience.” – Dan Van Buskirk

This week on the Stigma Free Vet Zone Podcast:

  • The role that dogs played throughout Dan’s experience in Vietnam
  • The deep, trusting relationships often developed between veterans and dogs
  • How dogs help veterans learn how to control their emotions, responses, and expectations
  • What ‘clicker training’ is and how they use this training method to train service dogs for veterans
  • The benefits of positive reinforcement training for dogs as well as veterans
  • Why Dan believes expectations ‘destroy beings’
  • How Linda became involved with HAVEN and what inspired her to begin working with veterans and dogs
  • How veterans choose the service dogs they want to work with
  • How your feelings and emotions are reflected in animals
  • The future outlook of HAVEN

Resources Mentioned:

Helping Veterans & Their Families Transition to Civilian Life

Thanks for tuning into this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast, the show dedicated to helping veterans and their families make the transition from the military to civilian life and culture. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe to the show and leave a review. For more stories, insight, and resources on coping with military-related trauma and PTSD, visit our website and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes across social media to help us raise awareness and help our brothers and sisters and their families transition to civilian life.

DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban & Bob Bach, are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.


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