Mary Jo Stockman & Mobility Assistance Dog Folly
Although Mary Jo Stockman of Hampton, Minn. is no longer training or riding horses her counterbalance and Mobility Assist Dog could easily be confused for a small horse at first glance. Mary Jo has dealt with multiple injuries to her spine as well as a birth defect that limit her mobility. Her ability to walk and balance is limited, plus she is unable to safely reach things on the floor and pick them up. While she no longer competes with horses she currently makes breath-taking derby hats and drives carriage horses.
After much research, Mary Jo decided that an assistance dog was right for her needs and that her service dog would be a Bouvier de Flandres because she required a large dog to support her. Enter Folly, a three-year-old grey “Bouvie” who became the ‘gentle giant’ that changed Mary Jo’s world. The team went through puppy kindergarten, ongoing obedience classes, and some advanced skills training with other trainers.
“Folly is so helpful, she learns very quickly, I know when I’m holding onto her I’m steady and it’s much safer for me. She’s just a joy,” exclaims Mary Jo. Mary Jo was referred to Can Do Canines by another Can Do Canines client that she met; she was so impressed by that team while out in public that she immediately contacted Can Do Canines for Folly’s certification. Mary Jo wanted to get Folly certified because she believes that there will be more regulations set into place for service dogs in the future and she feels more secure with the credibility and ongoing training support of Can Do Canines. The training and support Mary Jo and Folly received from Can Do Canines helped to fine tune Folly’s skills and better equip them for working together in public.
After so much time invested in training, Folly is great with bracing, picking up items, getting Mary’s husband, John, if Mary Jo falls, and aiding with muscle stamina by getting Mary Jo out for walks. Folly can even find Mary Jo’s keys if she drops them without realizing it as well as retrieving the telephone if Mary Jo falls and needs to call for help. Can Do Canines has provided even more training opportunities than Mary Jo initially expected; Mary Jo received travel training, “The Flight to Nowhere was probably the best training experience I’ve had for any animal. That was incredible! Folly was fine… there were a million things that I hadn’t thought about in regards to air travel!” The team even got to practice using the MSP airport transport cart because it had been an exhausting day for Mary Jo; Folly was happy to ride calmly along.
Mary Jo is tremendously grateful that she was accepted to be a part of the Can Do Canines community. “I appreciate the work that you guys do. It’s really nice that you take people as they are and help them team with their own dog as well as train and place your own program dogs. I have learned so much in regards to skills and working with Can Do Canines communication methods with Folly; I am so thankful you didn’t just say “good luck with that;” you partnered with me to train and certify my Folly. Thank you!”