Gerald Knutson and Mobility Assistance Dog Jade
Author: Emma Hage
After a car accident in 2008, Gerald “Jerry” of Apple Valley, Minn. began to experience a lot of discomfort. Level-3 back surgery, along with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 55, led to a multitude of health problems: high sensitivity to pain, trouble with balance and walking, osteoarthritis, moderate tremors, and chronic back pain. Using a walker, cane, or power chair, Jerry could still get around and do the things he enjoyed—such as trading and collecting cars—but everyday life presented him with challenges and pain.
When a social worker recommended that he apply for a service dog, he was referred to Can Do Canines. Several months passed before a match became available for Jerry, but he attended a Tails to Tell Tour and a Graduation Ceremony so that he could see what the organization was all about.
Finally, he was matched with Mobility Assist Dog Jade, a two-year-old smooth-coated Collie. She now lives with Jerry, his wife Leslie, and their cat Max, and is able to assist Jerry with many daily tasks that previously caused him a lot of discomfort. “She’ll get my keys if I need them, she’ll open the refrigerator, and she’ll close the drawers if I tell her to,” he says. “She’s nice to have around to help me.” Jade not only retrieves items for Jerry, she also offers stability and acts as a brace if he were to fall.
In addition to the tasks she can perform, Jade is also great company when Jerry is home alone. She especially enjoys tagging along when he is driving to trade a car or visit his family. “She loves riding in the car and gazing out the window,” he says.
Something that surprised Jerry was how well Jade can sense when something is wrong.
“When I’m hurting, she’ll lay on my legs or put her body right against me,” he says. “She does that quite a bit.”
Jerry is not the only subject of Jade’s sensitivities. The family’s cat, Max, who has a history of medical problems, has also benefited from her attentiveness.
“Max was in his corner laying on his pillow and Jade was checking on him, and all of a sudden she started barking,” says Jerry. “I went there and Max was having a seizure. I grabbed him and hugged him until his seizure stopped, and then we quickly gave him medicine.”
Jerry is glad to have Jade and he is very thankful to the trainers, donors and volunteers who made it possible for him to be matched with the perfect assistance dog free of charge. “I appreciate what they did for me,” says Jerry. “It takes a lot of patience and a lot of time to make her how well trained she is.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser – Timera Cyr
Special Thanks – The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institution, Sandstone
Dog donor – Amy Ross