LANDOVER, Md. (DC News Now) — The Washington Commanders introduced their new team dog, “Mando,” during Sunday’s season opening win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mando is an eight-month-old black labrador retriever that is being trained to be a service dog that will support veterans. Mando’s training is through the organization K9S for Warriors.
“He’s a service dog in training, so the fans get to follow that journey along with the players and then one day he’ll be paired with a veteran and he’ll mitigate those symptoms of PTSD,” K9S for Warriors director of development Lindsay Snyder said. “And help that veteran get back to that life of dignity and independence that he had.”
One day, Mando will help a veteran like Ryan Jackson, who served the nation for 14 years. Jackson decided to join the army the day after September 11, 2001. Jackson is aided by his service dog, Caliber.
“He goes everywhere with me. He can tell when I get anxious. He calms me down and stuff and provides a lot of support for me,” Jackson said. “It’s pretty amazing. I’ve been through a lot of PTSD programs and it’s by far the most effective one for me.”
According to Snyder, service dogs generally cost 40 thousand dollars. Snyder tells DC News Now that the services K9S for Warriors provides are free for veterans and that veterans live at the organization for 21 days, learning how to utilize their service dogs, while receiving free meals.
“Mando is currently eight-months-old, so he’ll spend about six more months in his puppy phase training and he’ll join us at headquarters for his service dog training,” Snyder said. “Then he’ll be paired with a veteran, probably in the beginning of 2023.”