Because He Knows Exactly What They’ve Been Through, A Dog Assists Children In Testifying Against Abusers

The 5-year-old Siberian husky is a symbol of real fortitude, with scars encircling his white nose. He’s not only conquered his mental wounds, but he also spends his days assisting youngsters who have been physically and sexually abused.

Kevin Marlin, who adopted Patriot after he was rescued by the Orange County SPCA (OCSPCA) in California, told The Dodo, “Patriot’s work with abuse victims derives from his knowledge and empathy with other victims.” “He appears to be able to empathize with their suffering and to show them that there is life and love after abuse.”

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

Many of his victims can relate to him and recognize his wounds as the result of abuse.”

According to Marlin, who is also the program director for the OCSPCA’s Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) and PAWS Assist the Needs of the District Attorney (PANDA) rehabilitation programs, Patriot was rescued at 4 months old with serious damage to his snout and lips. The husky’s injuries were caused by metal wire wrapped around his muzzle so tightly that it lodged and lacerated his muzzle and jowls, according to a local veterinary facility.

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

“He seemed to be starved,” Marlin added, adding that he was underweight and skinny.

Patriot was given antibiotics and had surgery to correct the damage to his muzzle.

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

Marlin noted, “Emotionally, he appeared naturally distant and isolated, but not at all hostile.” “If you didn’t know he’d been mistreated, you’d believe he was just timid and introverted.” He just didn’t appear to like being among others.”

Patriot’s recuperation was, understandably, a long one.

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

“One thing that rescue has taught me is that part of the process for every rescued dog is to assist them in unpacking the ‘baggage of the unknown,’” Marlin explained. “Each dog carries with him or her a backpack full of memories and history, both good and terrible.” Patriot had baggage in the form of someone who sought to control and overwhelm him in a vicious attempt to make him unhappy, if not kill him.”

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

Patriot was first apprehensive about having his muzzle handled, making it difficult to inspect him while he recovered from his injuries.

“I used to put peanut butter on my fingers and let him chew and suck it off my fingertips,” Marlin said. “This helped him trust me and also taught him that I would not harm him.”

Until he was a little over a year old, he refused to wear a collar.

“Regardless of what sort or how loose I placed them on, he would continually attempt to remove them and eat them up,” Marlin added. “I’m not sure he enjoyed the feeling of anything around his neck.” If he couldn’t, he’d have the other dogs in our group remove them for him.”

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

“If that happens, he’ll flee the room,” Marlin said, “so I try to keep my discussions quiet and calm around him.”

But, with time and love, the scars — both inside and out — healed. Not only did they heal, but Patriot also seemed to desire to assist others at one time.

“I had no intention of retaining him to become a therapy dog,” Marlin said. “With him, I had set the goal of making him sociable enough to adapt to a family environment and to have some trust in other people.”

“I think Odie passed along the desire to assist people down to Patriot,” Marlin said of his elder male Alaskan malamute, Odie, who had recently retired from pet therapy.

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

“I never pushed him to it, he wanted to,” Marlin said. “He was one of the easier dogs I’ve ever trained for the program and surprisingly passed the evaluation at 1 year of age — something not many dogs in the program have done. Usually at that age they don’t have the focus or ambition, but he seemed to want to get started right off.”

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

Patriot started working as a therapy dog in 2015. He works with children and adults in a number of settings through the OCSPCA’s treatment programs, including senior homes, hospice care, brain trauma units, children’s special needs classrooms, domestic violence shelters, and children’s foster and group homes. He helps children who have been abused tell about what occurred to them as part of legal procedures through PANDA.

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN

Marlin recalled one young girl who was awaiting the process of a trial. During her meeting, she was visibly uncomfortable and kept talking about Patriot.

Credits: KEVIN MARLIN