Pet Improvement: Pay it forward

Pictured are: Cindi Tringali, left, Lewis Smith, Nick Deed and Dylann Deeds, with service dogs Valor, Chance and Hope. (Courtesy photo)

In 2008, a young man joins the Navy. He wants to travel the world. He enjoys the discipline and comradery with the other sailors. He is deployed repeatedly to the Middle East. But then he starts to lose comrades. He sees and does things that really bother him. He sleeps in a tent and listens to gunfire all night. He is in a roll-over accident while in an armored truck that injures him. He becomes a wounded warrior, another statistic.

By 2013, when he returns home, he continues to slide. He is unwilling to go anywhere. He cannot hold down a job. Certain noises, television shows and situations cause fear. He becomes a shut-in. It isn’t until 2015 that he is diagnosed with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

During this time, Lincoln City resident Cindi Tringali is training service dogs for diabetic detection and other illnesses. Quite by accident and in her mid-30s, she is diagnosed with non-combat PTSD. Sexually abused as a five year old, it caused her young brain to develop incorrectly. Certain situations, stress and chaos cause exasperation and over-reaction

Her therapist suggests a service dog for her PTSD. Thoughtful, Cindi reaches out to an old friend, a Doberman breeder. There is a perfect match in a dog named Honor. As training continues, Cindi realizes how much this is helping her. The dog just gives the confidence missing in many circumstances.

Buoyed by this, she and her significant other, Lewis Smith, decide that they want to start focusing on training service dogs for people who suffer from PTSD. With assistance from her daughter, Ashley, they develop a novel program called Canines 4 Minds.

They decide as their first PTSD service dog to purchase, train and donate this animal to a person in need. Seeking the perfect puppy, Cindi reaches out to a breeder of Australian Shepherds who has 25 years experience. Temperament is crucial. The puppy needs to be handled and socialized from birth. The neurological enrichment is critical to the dog’s ability to serve. They see a video of a little tri-color male nursing peacefully, unlike the other puppies.

They take a chance on this calm puppy. The continued socialization is crucial so early on that he is taken everywhere. They have a papoose sling and a port-a-potty to protect him from diseases. The training is constant. Who will be the match?

Then one day, war veteran and Newport resident Nick Deeds has a friend tell him about this puppy aptly named Chance. The two meet, and it’s a bond at first sight. The puppy is not a piece of equipment, and it requires training and adjustments to create that perfect relationship. There is a constant learning curve. But the relationship starts to heal the young man. According to his wife, Dylann, there has been incredible progress.

So much so that Nick and his wife are helping Canines 4 Minds train another Aussie puppy for someone else suffering from PTSD. It’s paying it forward in a big way, and this puppy’s name is Hope.

More information on Canines 4 Minds is available by calling 925-202-7010.


Jane Laulis is an avid pet lover. She hosts a pet talk radio show and is involved with pets from research to retail, nutrition to pet food manufacturing. She lives on the coast with her scientist husband, ocean faring dogs, indoor cats, exotic snakes and a charm of hummingbirds. She may be reached at [email protected]


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