On October 6, 2017, after completing a 3 week intensive course with my partner Chase, we officially graduated as a team. To say the least, it was a very emotional event for me. It was returning some independence to me that has progressively been stripped away since 2003 when I incurred a C5/6 spinal cord injury. At that time I had 4 children, ages 6 years to 14 years at home (we homeschooled) so I had plenty of help. They were very good at taking turns schooling with me while the others did chores and personal work. As the years went by, and the children grew up, that left much of the burden of managing the household cleaning along with my personal cares to my loving husband Mark. To be able to have a service animal to offer even a little relief for him, gave me such joy.
Chase and I had an immediate connection and we are so similar in our personalities that makes us a perfect match. We are both stubborn, persistent, yet full of love for others. It’s now been almost 3 months since Chase and I became partners and each day he learns new things, practices old ones and gets lots of love. He goes on duty first thing in the morning and usually I remove his vest, which indicates playtime, in the early evening. Even when he is “off duty”, he still works for me if I need him. Pictured here, Chase and I along with Chase’s foster mom/trainer who gave him much love and training during his first 2-1/2 years. I will be forever grateful to her for giving of her time to help someone she didn’t even know yet.
An example of a new task I taught him was to open and close our very heavy front door. Because the door lever is not ADA compliant, I use a sleeve handle and tug available at Ears And Tail which works well on all my lever doors in the home. Here’s a video of him on the same day he learned the task.
Chase has also learned to open and close our sliding glass deck door to let himself go out, as well as other doors in the house. He retrieves the countless things I drop throughout the day and steps up to my foot plates to hand them to me. He also assists me in tugging socks, pant legs and shirt sleeves off.
After much research (I’m a research addict), it was clear to me which organization had the best reputation, dedication and expertise in the area of service dogs. The only one I applied to was Helping Paws in Hopkins, MN. I am a USAF veteran so my intention was a service mobility dog and luckily the VA has a program for service dogs. They do not get the dog for you, however if approved, they do cover all veterinarian expenses – check-ups, surgeries (non-elective only), illness visits, medication and hospitalization of the service animal if required. I was blessed enough to get a match fairly quickly through Helping Paws as well as approval of Chase as an officially supported Veteran’s dog.
I am so very excited as I look to our future of growing and learning together. He had 2-1/2 years training, while I had 3 weeks so I have catching up to do 🙂 Chase has been the light of my life since being paired as partners!
Stay tune for more posts, photos & videos on my life with Chase.