See how service dogs are helping veterans with PTSD in the moving new short film Even Heroes Need Heroes executive produced by Bobby Bones.
TV and radio personality Bobby Bones doesn’t do anything halfway. Not his nationally syndicated eponymous radio show (“the best and brightest country music stars stop by to tell us what they’re up to”). Not his turn on Dancing With the Stars (which he won with partner Sharna Burgess). Not his recent wedding to Caitlin at their home in Nashville (complete with string quartet floating in the pool and Dan + Shay onstage). Not his strong opinions (pick your favorite controversy, like his recent claim that No. 1 country songs and major awards are manipulated).
And certainly not his latest undertaking: partnering with Got Your Six Support Dogs and Purina Dog Chow to executive produce the documentary Even Heroes Need Heroes to show the help, hope, and healing that service dogs give to veterans suffering from PTSD.
As part of Purina Dog Chow’s fourth annual Service Dog Salute campaign to highlight the benefits service dogs specially trained for PTSD can provide veterans, the documentary team, in partnership with the service dog organization Got Your Six Support Dogs, spent the last year following three veterans and the service dogs who've come into their lives.
As with everything he does, Bones was all in.
“I’ve been working with service dogs and vets for years,” he says on a Zoom call from Nashville, where his airy office is in view, but his own dogs, Stanley and Eller, are nowhere in sight. “I’ve had vets on my radio show and been at Got Your Six a lot to see the time and effort that goes into training the dogs.”
Over the 20 minutes of the short documentary, you meet and get to know veteran and PTSD-service-dog pairs Shannon and Pepper, Tishawna and Archie, and Andy and his first companion, Thanos, and later his new dog, Storm. You watch as they navigate post-service challenges such as night terrors, emotional detachment, and hypervigilance. You learn how the Got Your Six program works, what it’s like to be a veteran suffering from PTSD, and the transformative power of the bonding of vet and dog.
The partnership of dog and vet is life-changing, Bones explains, and that’s exactly what you get to witness in Even Heroes Need Heroes, which premiered recently during Service Dog Awareness Month.
The film won’t just inform you about this important and amazing program — it will move you enormously.
Love dogs? Respect our veterans? Yes and yes. Any idea how much it costs to specially train a service dog to help a veteran suffering from PTSD get his/her life back? No idea, right?
“I really want people to know that training service dogs is so expensive,” Bones says. “I was amazed to learn how expensive it is to train them: It’s $20,000 to get them fully ready. It’s not like we’re paying our military a lot to have our six, and they don’t have enough money to come back and have a service dog. So how do we help people get their lives back on track? We combined forces with Dog Chow and the work they were doing with dogs.”
For Bones, seeing how dogs bond with their humans in real life is always memorable and moving — especially so with service dogs. “That dog and that human have each other’s backs. These dogs protect their humans.”
The story of veteran Andy was especially memorable. “He wasn’t sleeping — maybe just two hours a night,” Bones says. “If you’re not sleeping, you’re not well. We need sleep, and he wasn’t getting it. These dogs are such a big part of getting their lives back on track. It’s therapy.”
The documentary is a call to action, says Bones, who explains that both of his grandfathers served in the military. “Our job is to get people educated. For me it was about recognizing that I would not have the liberties I have without our military. I realized this at an early age. For the last 20 years, I’ve tried to focus on our vets. It’s something that for me is extremely important. We build houses for them. When I learned about service dogs, that became another way to help.”
He’ll be really proud, Bones says, if people come away from the documentary with an understanding that PTSD is real and these dogs are a true help in getting veterans on track to get their lives back.
“We know we couldn’t do what we do and maintain our liberties without our service people,” Bones says. “When they get home, the least we could do is help them with these amazing dogs.”
For more information about Even Heroes Need Heroes and service dogs for veterans, visit Purina Dog Chow.
Photography: (All images) courtesy Purina Dog Chow
Cover image: Dog Chow partner and TV/radio personality Bobby Bones with veterans Andy and Shannon for the fourth annual Dog Chow Service Dog Salute campaign