Leigh Anne Marrin and Mobility Assist Dog Ginger
In a house in northeast Minneapolis, Leigh Anne Marrin is adjusting to life with a new sense of mobility.
Leigh Anne has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of connective tissue disorders that causes joints to be constantly fatigued, or to partially or fully dislocate. The syndrome has affected her grip strength, making it difficult to grab heavier objects. And once she’s grabbed something, she can’t combine movements like lift and pull, or reach and push.
To ease some of the dislocations she experiences, Leigh Anne had foot surgery to put pins in her dislocating toe. Unfortunately, as a result of the surgery, she developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in her left leg, meaning it’s in constant pain and she is unable to use it. Her right leg has limited mobility, while her affected left leg is atrophied from the hip, making walking more difficult than before.
Leigh Anne was understandably frustrated. The surgery that was supposed to improve her mobility actually further impaired it. But Mobility Assist Dog Ginger is giving Leigh Anne what she hoped her surgery would: improved mobility.
The Yellow Labrador Retriever helps Leigh Anne be more independent without the risk of getting hurt. “Every time I have her get something … it’s one less opportunity for me to get injured,” she says.
The pair was matched in October of 2017 and passed their certification tests shortly after. Sarah, their client services coordinator, says the two “match on personality so well.”
Leigh Anne used to tense up her body in anticipation of the pain that would come with opening her refrigerator. Now Ginger tugs open the door for her so Leigh Anne can grab what she needs. “It’s no longer painful to get stuff out of the fridge. I’m no longer waiting until I absolutely have to get into the fridge.”
But that’s not all Ginger helps with. “[She] helps a lot with my frustration around the house,” she says. Even seemingly simple tasks like grabbing the kitchen towel are difficult for Leigh Anne. “Before her it was a minute of scooting around and 50,000 turns, and every turn I take is painful on various joints.” But now Ginger can help ease both Leigh Anne’s frustration and pain by retrieving items for her. “I’m so exceptionally grateful for her,” she says.
The Mobility Assist Dog has made a big impact in Leigh Anne’s life. “Ginger is such a tremendous help to me after such a short period of time,” she says. “I don’t feel I am equal to expressing my deep gratitude to everyone who has contributed to making her presence in my life possible … So even though it feels vastly inadequate, thank you so very much.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Prison (puppy raiser or special thanks): Stanley Correctional Institution (puppy raiser)
Great Start Home: Rosa Yang
Special Thanks: Sue McLinn, Jerry Schendel (both long term fosters individually)
You: Thank you for your donations!