International Assistance Dog Week was created "to recognize all the devoted, hard working assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations." In order to celebrate this week we would like to share four Assistance Dog Team stories that we feel highlight the life changing impact an Assistance Dog has on their FURever person.
Mark and DANTE
Adjusting to the limitations Multiple Sclerosis imposed was hard on Mark. Walking more than a few steps exhausted him. Reaching to pick something up could topple him off of his scooter. It was the most frustrating experience of his life.
Until he met DANTE, he had no idea the difference a Service Dog could make. Mark is still amazed by all that DANTE can do: pick up anything Mark drops, turn lights on and off, open and close the refrigerator and patio slider doors — even help pull Mark’s pants and socks off at night!
“I work from home as an engineer, so having DANTE with me makes everything better. He gives me the ability to remain independent. I don’t go anywhere without him!”
Liam and Service Dog for Children with Autism GABE
Liam doesn’t say much — autism limits his verbal communication — but his smile speaks volumes. While he’s always been happy at home, something was missing. Liam spent most of his time alone, and often couldn’t express when he was feeling anxious or sick. Now his Service Dog for Children with Autism, GABE, gives Liam the ability to soothe himself. When he’s feeling upset, Liam stops and puts his ear by GABE’s muzzle. GABE’s breathing calms him.
GABE is also helping Liam make social connections. His mom said, “The first person Liam ever let pet GABE was another boy with autism. It was like Liam knew and wanted to share GABE with him.”
Jessica and Hearing Dog PIPPEN
Before she received Hearing Dog PIPPEN, Jessica was an anxious mom of two young kids. A severe hearing loss kept her on constant high alert, unable to relax in her own home. She missed doorbells and phone calls. Dinners burned when timer alarms went unheard. Fears of a house fire brought sleepless nights.
With PIPPEN came confidence. His out-sized ears give Jessica the ability to wake up and get to work on time, cook tasty meals for her family and sleep peacefully knowing PIPPEN will alert her if ever there is an emergency. You can understand why Jessica calls him “8 1⁄2 pounds of pure gold”!
Brianna and CHLOE
When Brianna was just eleven, she was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that leaves her prone to sudden episodes — similar to seizures — which cause her to collapse and essentially lose consciousness for up to 90 minutes. When she comes to, she is disoriented and lethargic. It can take her all day to recover. Knowing that she can simply pass out at any time had a tremendous effect on Brianna’s confidence and independence. She didn’t feel safe being alone. She was hesitant and shy around others.
But then Brianna was paired with Assistance Dog CHLOE. CHLOE can retrieve Brianna’s phone, brace for her to stand up after she falls down and get help and return to her side during an episode. Watching them together you’d never know Brianna used to hide behind her mother at church to avoid talking to anyone. Or that CHLOE helped her gain the confidence to attend college without her mother in the classroom because she had CHLOE’s assistance. Her mom is seeing her bloom and explains, “I can’t believe the difference in Brianna...She is finally able to be herself.”
For more information about International Assistance Dog Week please visit, http://www.assistancedogweek.org/.