Greg Waibel and Mobility Assistance Dog Victor
Author: Amy Verrando
For former Marine Greg Waibel of Ramsey, Minn., the last seven years have been a blur of hospital visits. Greg suffers from peripheral artery disease, and about seven years ago, due to multiple blood clots, his right leg was amputated just above the knee. Because the clots were discovered late, Greg was very ill at the time he was rushed to the hospital.
“I don’t remember being sick, I don’t remember being taken to the Emergency Room, I don’t remember the surgery.”
Throughout the ordeal, Greg’s wife, Karen, and daughter, Heidi, have been amazingly supportive and patient, helping Greg whenever they can. However, because Karen has a busy work schedule and Heidi has a family of her own, Greg is often alone in their home. This can be challenging for Greg because he has trouble balancing; therefore, he doesn’t feel safe moving about the house when no one else is around to assist him in case of falls. Since the amputation, Greg has taken only two or three serious falls, but the danger of falling is ever present; a constant, real threat weighs on both Greg and Karen’s minds.
Greg initially heard about Can Do Canines through his therapist who had heard about the good work the organization does for people with disabilities. He recommended that Greg apply. Greg and Karen filled out an application for a Mobility Assist Dog marking the beginning of a new chapter in Greg’s life.
Can Do Canines matched Greg with a two-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador Retriever named Victor. At first Greg was concerned about the amount of training he would have to do with Victor, but after finding out how smart Victor is, Greg’s worries were over. “Really, all I have to do is feed him and take him to the vet, and that’s about all,” says Greg.
Victor was trained to retrieve items, carry objects, such as laundry, up and down the stairs, find objects (such as Greg’s cell phone) and to “go get help”. Overall, both Greg and Karen agree that Victor has given them a sense of security. Additionally, Victor has given Greg more independence. As the weather gets nicer, Greg excitedly describes how Victor will act as “Someone who will get me out of the house, now that the weather is nicer,” and joking, “I’m here all the time!”
Greg has high praises for Can Do Canines, “They did a wonderful job with him. Victor has been really helpful. Thank you to everyone who was involved in the entire process.”
Victor goes above and beyond, providing services such as helping Greg put things away and retrieving objects. In Victor, Greg has found a constant, loving, loyal companion. “I know companionship wasn’t supposed to be the primary reason for this program,” Greg confesses in the interview, “but Victor has helped mostly by just being a friend.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser – Paula Henn
Special Thanks – The Inmate Handlers at the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Faribault and the Inmate Handlers at the Federal Prison Camp, Duluth