New York studio offers ‘Puppy Pilates’ to raise money for veterans who can’t afford to train a service dog

What’s more relaxing than a healthy dose of Pilates … and puppies?

A Pilates studio in upstate New York is now offering “Puppy Pilates,” a class where for $25, you can do Pilates while playing with puppies.

While exercising with furry friends should be enough for most animal lovers, this unique Pilates class comes with a good cause. All of the proceeds will be going to Clear Path for Veterans’ Canine Program. The program trains dogs to become service animals for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Terri Todd, the owner of Precision Pilates and a mother of three, said the response has been “fantastic.” The studio near Syracuse will hold two sessions on October 27.

Granger, one of the puppies at the ‘Puppy Pilates’ class.

Her own son, Ryan Woodruff, is a US Marine Corps veteran and the Canine Program director at Clear Path for Veterans. He said the overall cost to raise and properly train a puppy to become a service dog is at least $25,000.

“You will never find a soldier that can afford that kind of investment,” Todd told CNN. Clear Path for Veterans covers all costs to train the dogs; however, they rely on donations to keep the program running.

Woodruff, an infantry rifleman who was deployed to Iraq twice before being honorably discharged in 2009, said his program’s focus is training service dogs. These dogs are trained to aid veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries or military sexual trauma.

“We have done scientific research showing that our training model significantly reduces symptoms associated with PTSD, decreases stress, increases self-compassion, and improves their overall quality of life,” Woodruff said.

The Canine Program is currently training eight dogs and will receive five more in February. Once the dogs become certified service animals, they are matched with veterans who adopt them when they’re around 18 months old.

Veterans also have the option to train their own dogs for 6 to 12 months with the Canine Program. However, not every one of those dogs become service dogs.

Woodruff says he was inspired to work with service dogs for veterans because of his own dog, Harley.

“She changed my life and helped me discover my passion for dog training,” Woodruff said. “She lost her life in a terrible accident and I continue to do the work I do in honor of her and what she taught me.”

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