Greg Lawson always loved to travel and was able to as a flight attendant and travel agent for many years. After moving to Minneapolis and meeting his partner, Ray, he continued to travel for fun. Then Type 2 diabetes caused serious complications in his health. Diabetic neuropathy has taken away Greg’s ability to feel his feet or stand and walk since 2005. He uses a powerchair to maneuver around, but when he drops things, he is unable to reach the ground to pick them up.
Oreo was Greg’s first Can Do Canines Mobility Assist Dog, who recently passed away. Knowing what a difference Oreo made for him, and how an assistance dog enabled the couple to keep taking trips, Greg decided to apply for a successor dog from the organization. He knew nothing could replace Oreo, but he was ready to welcome a new canine companion into his life.
Between Oreo’s passing and being matched with another assistance dog, Greg attempted to reach for things but fell out of his chair. Since Ray is unable to lift him back into the chair, it was a constant risk to take, but now Greg has help to stay safely seated.
Xio is a precious 2-year-old black Labrador Retriever, and while he is larger than Oreo, his energy is a soft and sweet match for Greg. He retrieves items Greg cannot safely access, such as keys on the ground or a pen under a desk. Spoons and cooking utensils that fall aren’t abandoned in the kitchen, thanks to the helpful little shadow. He also helps Greg by taking a sleeve cuff in his mouth and pulling it off since Greg can’t reach to pull his jackets off his arms. You can imagine how useful that is in Minnesota!
Greg says Xio came out of his shell within two days of moving home, and it turns out he is more cuddly than anyone expected. Greg sees improvements in not only his independence, but also his mental health. He is taking Xio for longer walks, is less dependent on other people’s help, and plans to resume traveling as much as possible. Greg was also able to introduce Xio to his workplace in the U.S. Bank Stadium, where Greg is a guest services representative. The team hopes to see some Vikings games together in the future.
Greg thinks it is astonishing that we are still able to place dogs at no cost, and he is beyond grateful for the life he is able to enjoy again with his successor dog. He says to everyone who made it possible for Xio to be such an incredible part of his life, “It’s amazing. If I’d had to pay thousands of dollars, I couldn’t have done it. When I tell people what it costs to train these dogs and we get them at no charge, they are just blown away.” Greg’s happiness is absolutely contagious. And Xio is thrilled to be working with his new friend.
To all the volunteers who made Xio the amazing teammate he is, Greg wants you to know, “Saying thank you is never enough to express what a difference Xio makes to my life. He helps me in ways no one else can. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Laura and Mike Pierce
Puppy Raiser: Stanley Correctional Institution
Special Thanks: Linda Kampa, Linda Stefonek
Whelping Home: Dana & Pete Kittock
You: Thank you for your donations!