Kati Hammar & Mobility Assist Dog Vegas
By: Emma Hage
Several months ago, Kati Hammar of Plymouth, Minn. was struggling with everyday activities. Her disabilities have made it difficult to walk long distances, so she often requires a wheelchair or crutches. Household chores are strenuous, and participating in her hobbies can be exhausting.
Fibromyalgia, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), and a combination of other chronic diseases have made daily life uncomfortable for the 28-year-old artist. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a collection of heritable connective tissue disorders that can lead to multi-systemic symptoms. Kati experiences persistent pain and is unable to move easily, which means that it can be challenging to pick up around the house or do yoga—one of her favorite activities. These disabilities have also made it hard for Kati to work. In addition, Kati is at risk for problems with her blood pressure, which can cause her to, among other things, faint or experience memory loss. She is also a bilateral hearing aid user.
After seeing a YouTube video of a woman with a service dog, Kati and her husband Justin began to consider getting an assistance dog. They decided this could be a good option for her as well.
Enter Vegas, a two-year-old chocolate Labrador who was trained as a Mobility Assist Dog for Kati. Kati says that meeting her new companion and helper, “Was just surreal. I don’t know how else to explain it. I was waiting for months to meet him, and I was waiting for them to bring him in, and I thought, “Okay, is this really happening?’”
Vegas is able to help Kati with tasks that cause her pain, such as retrieving items from the floor, opening doors in her apartment building, and transporting her medicine bags. He is also able to help act as a brace when Kati needs help getting up off of the floor from falling or doing yoga.
“That makes me breathe a little easier, knowing that I always have that option,” says Kati. Vegas can retrieve her medicine bag as well as dropped items, but his favorite thing to do is help out with chores.
“It’s kind of funny actually, how much he enjoys helping me do laundry,” says Kati. “I’ve learned the hard way that I have to put away the laundry right away or he’ll hand it to me, piece by piece, if it’s in his reach. Nothing like an incentive to put it away!”
Kati can now live her life more freely and actively with the help of Vegas. She is grateful to Can Do Canines, Vegas’s Puppy Raisers, and the donors who made their match possible.
“You have no idea what a difference programs like this make,” says Kati. “I was ready to give up before I got him. So, thank you!”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser— The Hollerud Family
Team Sponsor— Northern Tool & Equipment
Name-A-Puppy-Donor— Kathleen Delonais