Rich Sheehan & Mobility Assist and Seizure Assist Dog Journey
While working on his house in May 2010, Rich Sheehan of Coon Rapids, Minn. slipped and fell 25 feet, landing on the ground below. In the hospital he felt lucky to see his three children again after being treated for cracked ribs, a ruptured spleen and cracked vertebrae. Undetected, however, was a broken blood vessel.
Two days after the fall, Rich suffered a massive stroke. Doctors were able to operate and save his life, but not before 80 percent of the left part of his brain had been damaged. He survived this second blow and over time partially recovered. But he was left with little use of his right arm, difficulty moving his right leg, speech issues and was prone to seizures.
A former marathon runner and canoeist in the Boundary Waters, Rich was not one to give up. After hearing about Can Do Canines from a neighbor, he applied immediately. Mary, Rich’s mother, received a call from him the day Can Do Canines found the perfect match—a two-year-old black Labrador retriever named Journey.
“Rich called me more excited than I’ve ever heard him before. He kept saying ‘Journey’s coming in two days!’ We knew we could get through, if we can just wait two more days.”
That day of arrival finally came had and Mary went to Rich’s house. “I was greeted by the most beautiful dog I have ever seen,” she says. “There was Journey standing at Rich’s side and Rich was just beaming.”
Journey is now an integral part of Rich’s life, paying close attention for any way he can help. If something hits the floor, Journey runs over, picks it up, and places it in Rich’s hand. Journey can get the phone for Rich and if he needs assistance beyond what a four-legged companion can provide, Journey will run through the house and find someone to help.
Most importantly, says Rich, Journey helps him with his seizures. During a seizure, Journey will curl up alongside Rich and lick his hands. This helps Rich acclimate to his surroundings after an episode, which Rich says, is “very comforting.”
Summing up their new partnership together, Mary says “There is no way our family can thank you enough for this special gift that you have given our son. The joy and comfort that your dogs bring, not only to our son, but to all those people who need help most, is amazing. You will forever be in our thoughts and prayers.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser: The Inmate Handlers at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault
Short & Long-term Foster Homes: Sam Azure; The Bailey Family; The Collier Family; Sue & Doug Forsberg; The Gengler Family; The Grunseth Family; The Hollerud Family; Laura & Matt Hofkens; Rick & Kay Rost; Dora Schroeder; The Soderholm Family; The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Facility at Sandstone; Joseph Trygstad; Nancy Weitgenant; Robert Weiland; Jeffrey Young
Name-A-Puppy Donor: Women of Today