Angela Otterholt and Mobility Assist Dog Yorick
By Joy Miller
Angela Otterholt has faced many physical challenges in her life—cerebral palsy, myoclonus, and epilepsy—but in the last 14 months, she has dealt with difficult emotional challenges as well. Her husband Curt died in August of 2016 after suffering an aneurysm and stroke. Then she and her youngest son, Jake, downsized their home and moved to Prior Lake, Minnesota. With Jake soon graduating from high school, her three sons and doctors started discussing what other changes needed to be made to help her navigate life—not only physically, but also emotionally. Enter Can Do Canines and Mobility Assist Dog Yorick, helping Angela’s sense of security, safety, and emotional well-being increase greatly.
Angela’s physical challenges are daunting. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malfunction and primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination. Myoclonus refers to involuntary muscle jerks, shakes or spasms that vary in intensity and frequency, sometimes being severe enough to interfere with eating, speaking, or walking. Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures ranging in type from person to person.
Because of her disabilities, Angela would often fall, losing her balance and falling. Now Yorick will stand next to her when she is off-balance and shaky, helping her steady herself. He also picks up items she’s dropped, and since Yorick needs to be exercised every day, Angela is walking more, building her stamina and confidence in getting around.
Being a Goldador (Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever cross), Yorick has proven to be very sensitive to Angela’s needs. “He’s always right there for me,” Angela says, offering physical support but also a cuddle when she’s feeling emotionally unsteady. “He’s been really helpful for me.”
Angela’s Client Services Coordinator, Leslie says, “This is a great team. Yorick fell in love with her the first time he met her. When I move dogs in, most of them will follow me to the door and watch outside for a while. Yorick was asleep on his back and couldn’t have cared less when I left.” The whole family adores Yorick, who runs to the door to greet them when they enter the house. “He’s an excellent dog for me—a perfect match,” she says. He is also a good babysitter, helping Angela watch her granddaughter a few days a week. “He knows which toys are for kids and which toys are for him.”
Angela is extremely grateful to Yorick’s Puppy Raisers, trainers, fosters, and Can Do Canines donors who make the program possible. Adequate words are hard to find to express how much Yorick’s reassurance and help mean to Angela and her family.
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: The Gott family
Puppy Raiser: The inmate handlers at FCI Sandstone
Special Thanks: Kathy Grant and Bill Beddie
You: Thank you for your donations!