James Pick & Mobility Assistance Dog Oakley
Brainerd, Minn. resident James Pick has a new roommate: Mobility Assist Dog Oakley. James is living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease which attacks the central nervous system. “Because of my MS I have problems with balance and I fatigue easily,” says James. Without family close by James and his loved ones were living with a lot of worries; with Oakley around James has an assistant to help him with tasks as well as providing greater peace of mind for both himself and his family.
Mobility Assistance Dog Oakley is a gorgeous three-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador. James notes that she is very polite, well-behaved, and a great worker. Oakley was trained by Can Do Canines staff. She retrieves dropped items for James such as his cane or cell phone, helps tug off clothing, opens and closes doors, and braces to help James up if he falls. Having Oakley as his Mobility Assist Dog fills James’ life beyond the daily help with tasks, “Oakley is my best friend.”
“Retrieving items for me and taking my socks off at night are some of the most significant things she does for me every day.”
James was thinking about getting an assistance dog to help him with the effects that MS has on his body. His sister had helped him by looking in to organizations in Minnesota. She said, “While researching other organizations, Can Do Canines looks to be the most promising and seemed like the best!” James applied for a Mobility Assistance Dog after receiving her recommendation.
James says that the most difficult part of the training process was memorizing all of the new things which can be difficult and challenging for his brain to recall. The easiest part for James was their bonding process. He feels that Oakley supports him, makes him feel safe and has given him courage.
“Even though my parents support me, they’re not there all the time. But Oakley is. I have a supporter and she makes me proud.”
Oakley has changed James’ life immensely. “I feel like I’m not alone in this anymore. I have someone who loves and cares for me. I didn’t realize how much it would help my psyche,” says James. Oakley and James are a successful team because he made Oakley’s training a top priority. He took the training so seriously that he put playing his guitar (his most favorite activity) on the backburner in-order to be fully present. James feels proud and a sense of accomplishment for the energy and commitment he’s devoted to training Oakley.
“We’ve been training so I haven’t been playing guitar for a while which is very rare for me. She likes the sound of the guitar I think. She retrieves my guitar picks for me when I drop them.”
When asked to give advice to others who are considering an assistance dog, James notes, “Be there! If you’re going to go for it don’t hold back. Be committed and go all the way.” To the supporters, donors and volunteers who made James and Oakley a success, James says, “All I can say is thank you! You’re going to make me cry, but thank you for all you do!”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser— Cathy Grant and Bill Beddie
Special Thanks— Diana Adamson, Marianne Malko, Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institution – Sandstone