Veteran Chris Buswell is the first to admit he doesn’t know where he would be without Golden Retriever Lynne.

She is constantly by his side and helps to ease some of the burdens of daily life.

It’s thanks to charity Bravehounds that Mr Buswell now has his reliable companion and those behind the project are hoping to be able to help many more veterans.

The Scottish military charity provides assistance dogs to veterans who have struggled with their mental health as a result of their service. They may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety and some also have physical injuries. 

Read more: Revealed: New images of George Square show statues relocation

The charity is looking for more Bravehound Buddies willing to look after dogs for up to four months before they go to a veteran.

Mr Buswell, 54, from Aberdeenshire, said having Lynne has changed his life for the better. He suffers from PTSD which can make it difficult to contemplate everyday tasks. And he and his wife Karla are also trying to cope with the loss of their son Angus, who took his own life at the age of 22.

“I was very low and had been suffering from depression and anxiety when my GP realised I needed help and suggested I should get in touch with Bravehound,” said Mr Buswell. “I needed help going into public or crowded places and even something as simple as going shopping or standing in a queue was difficult for me.

“The dogs are trained to give assistance or companionship and I needed assistance. Now I have Lynne she takes me to places that I would never have dreamed I could have managed.”

The Herald: Bravehound Lynne has made a huge difference to Chris Buswell's confidenceBravehound Lynne has made a huge difference to Chris Buswell's confidence (Image: Chris Buswell)

Volunteers from the charity visited Mr Buswell in Aberdeenshire and it was a second match that proved to be successful.

He added: “I think with Lynne we were just meant for each other. She is perfect and so gentle. With Lynne it is like a button has been pressed and suddenly I become calm and my anxiety plummets. She was trained to give cuddles on command. If I have a flashback all I have to say is 'cuddle' and she puts her paws on my shoulders. I also taught her sign language which she understands as sometimes I become tongue-tied.”

The five-year-old dog has made such a difference to Mr Buswell’s life that he feels every veteran should be given one when they leave service.

Married to Karla, also a former army nurse - the couple met when they trained together - Mr Buswell, 54, said he feels Lynne has helped him blossom.

“She has made such a difference in our lives and I would urge anyone who thinks they could benefit from having a Bravehound in their life to get in touch with the charity,” he added.

Read more: Tall Ship Glenlee: How abandoned Glasgow ship managed to find way home

The charity is launching a new scheme appealing to people to volunteer to become Bravehound Buddies which involves keeping a puppy for up to four months before it is matched with a veteran. The role involves socialising the puppy, getting it used to people, public transport, other dogs and some training - the charity teaches the volunteer training methods.

Founder Fiona MacDonald said: “Most people who serve in our Armed Forces benefit hugely from their time in service and leave with fantastic skills and abilities. For those who are injured physically or carry the invisible wounds of war, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety or cognitive impairment life can be very difficult.  I founded Bravehound because these veterans were withdrawn from society, isolated and at risk of self-harm.”

A Bravehound dog gives 24 hour companionship, a reason to get up and go out and a structure and purpose to each day.

Ms MacDonald added: “Several of the veterans partnered with a Bravehound dog have stated that they would not be here if it were not for their Bravehound. We couldn’t provide dogs without the help of our volunteer Bravehound Buddies.”

Bravehound aims to support a smooth transition into civilian life, bringing communities together and helping ex-service personnel and their families adjust to living with the visible and invisible wounds of war. 

Pam Burns, 55,  from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, has looked after three Bravehound dogs in the past and finds it a very rewarding thing to do as she knows the dog is going to a veteran who really needs it.

I first got involved with Bravehound five years ago when I discovered the charity on Facebook,” Mrs Burns said. “I thought I could help out as I have dogs of my own and enjoy working with them.

"The role involves socialising the dogs as early as possible - taking them into cafes and on buses and trains, things like that. Really it’s about exposing the dogs to everyday life including other dogs so having my own around is a bonus. The Bravehound team is very supportive and there if you need anything.”

The Herald: Pam Burns with Broxi who she trained for Bravehounds initiativePam Burns with Broxi who she trained for Bravehounds initiative (Image: Pam Burns)

Mrs Burns admits it is hard when the puppy moves on, but she knows the dog is going to help a veteran.

She added: “Some of them have told me that if they didn’t have a Bravehound dog they wouldn’t be here as it gives them a purpose in life, something we all need.

"I’ve looked after three dogs so far and one of them, Broxi, my first Bravehound puppy, comes back to stay when his owner is on holiday - it’s always nice to see him.”

To find out more go to