WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Dogs are truly man’s best friend, and a member of the 445th Airlift Wing family is helping train canine companions to become highly specialized service dogs that provide much more than just friendship.
Capt. Robert Cost, an intelligence team chief with the 445th Operations Support Squadron, and his wife, Capt. Emily Cost, of the Army National Guard, work with service dogs at Circle Tail, Inc. in Pleasant Plain, Ohio.
Circle Tail is a non-profit organization that trains service dogs to provide various levels of support for people with disabilities. Some of these incredible canines become service dogs that assist people with a variety of physical disabilities.
Others become hearing dogs that can alert individuals who are hard of hearing to sounds in the vicinity and guide them to the source. Most of these animals are able to effectively differentiate between anomalous occurrences in their environment, open doors, turn alarms on/off, provide balance support and get help in case of an emergency.
Circle Tail handles requests for service dogs from around the country and tailors their selection process to each successful applicant. Every dog has a different personality, and Circle Tail believes that it is vital to match the right hound to the right human.
If a dog does not make it through the service program, they undergo a “career change” and are adopted by deserving families who desire well-trained and caring pets. The highly selective and rigorous program run by the employees and volunteers of Circle Tail provides an invaluable service for those who need canine support.
“I was always fascinated with working dogs,” said Cost’s wife Emily, a full-time trainer at Circle Tail. “I began working with them permanently after a short time doing volunteer work through the organization. It’s an incredible opportunity that we have; to provide service dogs at no cost to people in desperate need of the assistance. Honestly, for everyone involved, it’s life changing.”
Emily began working with the organization 10 years ago, and through helping her, Cost began to develop a similar passion to hers for working with Circle Tail. In fact, while on active duty, the Costs fostered dogs from Circle Tail and helped acclimate them to the household and to the public.
“We work with Circle Tail at their facility and at home,” said Capt. Robert Cost. “We have fostered dogs for several years, and we find it rewarding seeing the dogs grow and become valuable companions. The whole mission of the organization is training, but that has limitations unless you get them out in public and reinforce that training. Socialization is key in getting them ready for the partnering process.”
The Cost family is proud to serve their country, and working with Circle Tail has allowed them to reach out to their community even more outside of their military capacity. Not only do they bring dogs into their home, they also participate in education outreach programs that teach children and adults about service dogs and how to interact with them.
During their time in these programs, the Costs have taken service dogs to visit schools, community centers and outreach events. They take special care to emphasize etiquette around the animals. Most people see a pet, when in reality they are watching a dog at work and should not disturb it while it is operating in an assistance capacity.
“So many people are uneducated when it comes to service dogs,” the Air Force intelligence officer said. “Through Circle Tail, we are able to take the dogs into schools and communities, even prisons, and teach about the specifics of what service dogs do. It can be therapeutic and informative for the audience, and it allows the dogs to practice what they have learned in a public setting.”
Circle Tail and the dogs that they train have become part of the Cost family, and by extension, a part of the Wright-Patterson family. Members of the base have donated newspapers to Cost who takes them to Circle Tail where they are used throughout the facility to assist in operations. The members of Circle Tail and the Costs are extremely grateful for the help these donations provide.
“We want to thank all those who donated newspapers to us,” said the Airman. “It’s a great help, and we appreciate the Wright-Patterson team for helping us to help others.”
Capt. Cost serves our unit in the intelligence specialty, and he, his wife Emily and the members of Circle Tail train intelligent dogs to provide smarter care.
“Sometimes it is hard to part with the dogs until you realize the impact that your care is going to have on an individual’s life,” said Cost. “Both Emily and I have a responsibility to serve the military family and the community, and we love to give back. Circle Tail allows us to reach out and make a positive impact.”
Circle Tail, Inc. is actively seeking volunteers to become foster parents for some of their dogs and to contribute physically and financially to their mission. If interested, visit their website at www.circletail.org and navigate to the volunteer tab or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Service dogs may be requested via the organization’s website.