Frank Koss and Mobility Assist Dog Pinta
Author: Bobb Elsenpeter
Independence is something most people take for granted. But when that capacity is taken away, the result is devastating. Thankfully, getting some of those abilities back is life changing.
Such is the case with Frank Koss of Plymouth, Minn.
Frank suffered a back injury in November of 2004 and as a result has had numerous back surgeries, including spinal fusions. A recent surgery resulted in even more health complications.
He found himself in a wheelchair and wasn’t able to walk for seven months. Frank has an abnormal gait and no feeling in his legs and as a result, he is at a greater risk of falling and he can’t bend over to pick things up.
Frank first considered an assistance dog when his occupational therapist – who is also a Can Do Canines Puppy Raiser – suggested it. “She mentioned Can Do Canines and she thought it would be good if I got a service dog,” Frank remembers. “I contemplated it for a while. I really wanted to do it, so I put in my application.”
Three-year-old black Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, Pinta, is helping Frank get his life back, and their bond was apparent almost immediately.
“The very first day of training — I’ll never forget — during a break he came up to me and put his paws up on my knees and then walked up and put his paws on my shoulders,” Frank says, wiping away tears. “He put his head on my shoulder and just gave me a hug. I instantly knew that Pinta was the right one. And I think he was telling me that I was the right one, too. It still brings tears to my eyes when I talk about it.”
“He loves being around people and he loves to be the life of the party!”
Pinta helps Frank pick things up so he doesn’t have to bend over. “He gives me some attention and comes up to me when he knows I’m in pain,” Frank says. “Quite often, when I get in pain and I get sad, he knows and he comes up and gives a hug. He’ll sit next to me and put his paw on my shoulder.”
Because of chronic pain and PTSD resulting from his accident, Frank has trouble sleeping at night. Pinta’s presence also improves Frank’s sleep. In fact, the first night Pinta was with him he slept through the night for the first time in several months.
“Having him next to me at night, it’s always the security of knowing that I have someone there with me.”
The regained sense of independence is immeasurable. For instance, Frank is able to go to therapy by himself, something he wasn’t able to do before. Pinta also helps Frank’s wife, Lyn, relax. One of Pinta’s skills is to go get help if Frank falls. In fact, Frank actually had a recent fall, and Pinta responded. “He sprinted down the hallway to Lyn’s room and got her,” Frank says. “When she came back, he was sitting next to me and making sure I was okay.”
For the Puppy Raisers and trainers, Frank expresses his thanks. “I would sincerely like to say thank you, because without all the hard work all these people put into him, he would just be a dog,” Frank says. “He’s so much more.”
Frank also appreciates the generosity of financial supporters. “I know that there are so many charities out there asking for money these days,” he says. “But this is one charity where it makes a difference in people’s lives – there is an immediate impact for many years to come. I just say thank you.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Special Thanks – The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institution, Faribault
Dog Donor – Guide Dog Foundation