Jason Apland & Mobility Assistance Dog Wagner
Picture a gorgeous summer day out on the lake with your closest friends. The sun warms your skin while the cooling lake water splashes against your feet. You’re out jet skiing the lake when all of a sudden you’re thrown from the jet ski and your head crashes into the bottom of the lake. This happened to Jason Apland from New Brighton in 2011 at the age of 31. As a result of his jet ski accident, Jason crushed the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck. He now has plates, pins and donor bones in his spine. After months of rehab, Jason moved into his own apartment. He now uses a wheelchair and has PCAs to help with daily cares.
Wagner, a relaxed two-year-old black Labrador Retriever helps Jason live a more independent life by being his Mobility Assist Dog. Wagner retrieves dropped items for Jason like his slippers or apartment door opener which Jason admits he drops quite frequently. There used to be times when Jason was stuck in the hallway unable to open his apartment door, but that doesn’t happen anymore because Wagner is there. Jason enjoys going to sporting events and hanging with friends out in the community, and Wagner tags along for Jason’s active social life.
“It’s the little things that make a difference, like when Wagner pushes the elevator button for me so we can get home.”
While going through rehabilitation at the Courage Center after his accident, staff suggested that Jason look into assistance dogs, but he decided to wait. Later, Jason saw firsthand how his friend Alisha’s life had changed with Can Do Canines Mobility Assist Dog Maverick. He said, “Seeing Alisha with Maverick really got my wheels turning. I thought that an assistance dog could really help me out.”
“Wagner is really chill! He’s relaxed and focused on what I need. If we’re out in the community he’s got the energy for it but when we’re home he’s relaxed which is nice for me.”
Jason felt that the training process went very smoothly, he felt an instant connection with Wagner. Jason says, “Can Do Canines did a good job matching us, that’s for sure. It seemed like on that first day, everything worked right away!” To the inmate handlers, puppy raisers and fosters, he exclaims, “Whatever they did to train Wagner, well keep doing it! They raised a great dog and I’m sure they’ve raised a bunch more.” To the donors and supporters of Can Do Canines, Jason wants you to keep doing what you’re doing because you are truly helping people in need like him! You make a tremendous impact on people’s lives.
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser— Jerry Schendel
Special Thanks— Inmate Handlers at the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Faribault