Chili Cookoff benefits service dogs for disabled veterans

Chili Cookoff benefits service dogs for disabled veterans (WPDE)

A chili cookoff this weekend in Aynor benefits the Big Paws Canine Foundation. It's a non-profit organization that trains dogs to help disabled veterans.

Steve Slavik is a chili master.

"I've got my little stash there to make it taste different than everyone else's," said Steve.

His sous-chef Diesel is always by his side, or between his legs.

"As I'm sweeping he's there to help stabilize me so I don't lose my balance," said Steve. "If I'm leaning one way or the other he actually leans in with me to hold me up."

Steve is a veteran who suffers from mobility issues but fortunately, trained service dogs Diesel and Boom are there to help.

If Steve falls to the floor, Boom can push him into a recovery position.

Steve and his wife Mary do the training.

"If we have a dog that we want to be taught to open things, we'll have them use their paw instead of their nose," said Mary, as she guides Boom through an activity.

The dogs can flip a light switch.

Big Paws Canine Foundation prepares these dogs to help veterans get through daily life, especially if a veteran suffers from PTSD.

"They don't want to be around people. They don't want to be around crowds. They don't want to be around loud noises," said Steve.

"So we teach these dogs to zig-zag, to kind of make that 18 inches of safe space around them," said Mary. "The dogs are going to alert if someone is going to approach quickly. It gives them a sense of calm."

Giving a sense of calm, and security, and a boost if they need it.

The Big Paws Chili Cookoff is this Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Aynor Park.

Anchors from ABC 15 will be judges, including Good Morning Carolinas anchors Crystal Costa and Matt Barbour.

For more information, visit

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