Warriors and Wolves
Mathew Simmons, co-founder of the Warriors and Wolves programme with a wolfWarriors and Wolves

They've run in packs and suffered scarring life experiences, but a unique new programme matching military veterans with wolves is helping both man and animal to rebuild their lives. "Both misunderstood and disenfranchised" they find solace in each other, according to the Warriors and Wolves programme.

Around 40 wolves and wolf-dogs live at the Lockwood Animal Rescue Centre, a sprawling 20-acre estate around 70 miles north of Los Angeles, California. At least 29 of the animals were rescued from Alaska where they were held in horrific conditions, chained to fences, only able to move a few yards at a time, unable to touch one another except when breeding, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. Others were bought as pets.

After they began pairing the creatures with military veterans in 2009 US Navy veteran Mathew Simmons and clinical psychologist noticed the unique relationship was beneficial to both man and beast.

Warriors an Wolvers
A veteran smiles as a wolf leans towards his headWarriors and Wolves

"We started to see these miracles happening that we weren't seeing in a traditional clinical setting," Dr Linder said in a recent interview with NBC Los Angeles.

Wild animals choosing to create a relationship with someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was "profoundly important" to them, she added in a separate interview with Sky News.

"One of the main symptoms of those disorders is the inability to trust, to build relationships, to feel like you're safe," she said. "These animals we are rescuing also have traumatic stress disorders, are also shy and have difficulty developing relationships and trusting again."

After spending 10-years in the US Navy Jim Minick told Sky News that he was "lost" and credited his relationship with a wolf, Kehei, with helping him.

He said: "It is hard to re-integrate back into normal society and trusting people, trusting society, how they are going to judge you… These guys really don't judge you, they really don't care what you did before, they just care who you are and it is a really special bond, a special relationship."

Another Navy veteran Drew Boli, told NBC Los Angeles that three extended tours led to a divorce and debilitating nightmares.

"The majority of my pay cheque was going into alcohol," he said, adding that the wolves had helped him shift his life away from drinking.

Co-founder Mathew Simmons had himself suffered from PTSD said the sanctuary becomes a "place of respite" for the men, in an interview published on the programme's website.

"When they first get to the programme they are very lethargic and not committed. They are five minutes late, they're leaving 20 minutes early," he said.

"I think the biggest change you see with some of the warriors in the programme is their willingness to be early, their willingness to say yes and they're willingness to just about anything when it comes to their wolf or the sanctuary."