Trekking Through HardshipSeptember 18, 2017
By Kaitlyn Padden, Associate
Everybody knows that dogs make life so much better. But some may not know how much easier and purposeful they can make life as well. I volunteer at a nonprofit organization called Can Do Canines that is dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities by partnering them with dogs that are specially trained for their needs. I recently came across a woman and her service dog and wanted to share their story.
Connie was working as a full-time waitress when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Prior to that week, she had full mobility and independence. Connie then gradually started losing feeling and movement from the waist down until she needed a wheelchair in 2001. She spent many weeks in the hospital and then four weeks in an inpatient rehab facility. Even when she was released from the facility, she needed a hospital bed in order to help her adjust to living at home. The unexpected diagnosis affected her life greatly.
During this time, Connie had the help of her husband. He helped her whenever the disease got in the way of her independence and was a companion when times got hard. Unfortunately, her husband passed not long after she was diagnosed. Life became lonely for Connie and she found herself getting outside less and less. Her fears of falling increased and she worried that she wouldn’t be able to get to a phone for help. In one instance, Connie fell and it took her an hour to get herself to a phone and call for help. Connie realized that she needed someone to help her feel more independent and safe. This is when Can Do Canines and service dog Trek came into her life.
Once Can Do Canines gave Trek to her free of charge, Connie immediately felt safer and found herself able to do things she previously couldn’t. Trek picks up items Connie drops and helps her navigate through public, as well as attend doctor’s visits, retrieves items she needs, and assists her with visiting friends and neighbors. Connie no longer feels bored and doesn’t have to wonder what she is going to do on a daily basis. As Connie says, “I have to take care of Trek and Trek has to take care of me”.
After experiencing such hardship, Connie feels that everything has fallen into place and is thankful to have found Can Do Canines in her time of need. Connie finally found purpose in her life again with help from Trek. She says, “Can Do Canines has done such a beautiful job with him — he is such a good boy. He is perfect.”
Connie and Trek are only one of the pairs I have met through Can Do Canines. Their story and each of the others has impacted me greatly. I encourage you to volunteer for an organization that relates to a passion of yours.