The assistance dogs provided by Can Do Canines help with a number of disabling conditions, including diabetes, autism, seizure response, hearing loss and assisting those with mobility issues. One of the intangible things that the dogs add is a tendency to open the world for those who’ve just received a new dog. Such is the case of Stephanie. Even though Stephanie is by no means a shut-in, two-year-old black Labrador Retriever Sheldon has helped her get out into the world even more – something that she really wasn’t able to do before.
Stephanie was born without a left hip socket – a condition that wasn’t discovered until many years later. While now she has an artificial hip, she also has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which can make falling even more perilous.
“I pretty much got up, went to work, was exhausted after work, came home. Usually I would take a nap, answer some emails or do some work plans, and then go to bed,” she says. “It was pretty low human contact. I avoided, pretty much, going anywhere.”
Now, Sheldon helps Stephanie get out more. “We’ve been doing some walks in the evening, some walks which I wouldn’t have done before. I don’t take a nap now. I just feel like it doesn’t take as much energy to get through the day.” She says, ”I can get home, actually go on a bike ride, and still I have energy left over from the day. He’s just opened up a lot of doors for me.”
“One of the things Sheldon does, is if we’re walking…he wears a harness so that I can get the stability from him,” she says. “I can pull up on the harness, and that offers me a ton of both confidence and help maintaining stability and maintaining my energy so that I can go further.”
He can also retrieve items that Stephanie needs, minimizing her fall risk. “At home, he gets stuff that I drop,” she says. “He also pulls my laundry up the stairs. I can get it down the stairs, but getting it back up is more of a challenge.”
Sheldon has plenty of opportunity to help Stephanie. She is a high school teacher and Sheldon goes to school with her every day. “He’s with me all day during school,” she says. “He’s with me during meetings. The kids are super awesome with him.”
Joy for both hearts
Given how much Stephanie does in a day, one might expect Sheldon to be less than excited. That has not been the case. “I do ask a lot from him—I ask him to be good for eight hours, almost 10 hours a day at school, and then still come home and do work for me here, every day. He’s so excited to get up and excited to go to work and excited to get back and excited to do stuff at home,” she says. “I know people can see it, because one of my coworkers was like, ‘He’s always so loyal to you’.”
Stephanie is very grateful for the dedication of all the volunteers who touched Sheldon’s life as he prepared for his future and is also thankful for the donors – all of whom make Can Do Canines assistance dogs possible.
To learn more about our Mobility Assistance Dogs or to find out how you can help enhance the quality of life for people living with disabilities visit Can-Do-Canines.org
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser: Lynne and Rob Kaufman
Special Thanks: FCI Sandstone, University of Minnesota FETCH Program
Field Trainer: Julia Breza
Whelping Home: Karin and Elroy Balgaard
You: Thank you for your donations!