Consider for a moment your dream home. Would it have an elevator? Fifteen-year-old Mike has an elevator that directly accesses his bedroom. But for Mike, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, having elevator access is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.
When Mike and his family took the steps to receive a Mobility Assist Dog from Can Do Canines, a special dog needed to rise to the occasion. An intelligent, black Labrador Retriever named Maddox was down with the plan to perform the specific skills to help Mike navigate the world.
Although ecstatic to welcome a new buddy, Mike confesses he thought, “I was scared I might break Maddox.” However, Maddox proved not only his toughness, but also his enthusiasm for working. Since the home elevator door opens as a swing door with a door handle, Maddox uses a tug rope to open the door and then pushes it closed. If an item is in the elevator, Maddox retrieves it and deposits it on the tray of Mike’s wheelchair for them.
The elevator isn’t Maddox’s only skills setting though. He also brings Mike’s medicine bag to him from elsewhere in the home, he gets Mike’s leg braces and shoes and puts them by the door, and picks up anything Mike drops on the floor, anywhere, any time. Mike appreciates Maddox’s help, saying, “I’m excited he can pick things up. I have never been able to do that on my own and I drop things a lot.” He adds, “I had to ask people for help of all kinds, with everything.” Now, with Maddox always ready to assist, he says, “He is a really good helper dog.”
New Adventures Await
Mike knows that soon his world will open up even more. He says that once the pandemic settles down, “I think it will be good when we get to go out more so I can have more independence.” Plus, he has high school on the horizon, sharing, “I am looking forward to high school in person, hopefully next year. It will be an adventure to see how Maddox can work with me at school.”
Neither Mike nor Maddox consider life to be all work and no play. Mike talks about enjoying going downhill skiing, playing power soccer and watching television. As for Maddox, Mike describes him as being very calm and laid back typically, but states, “He can be silly when we take him out of the kennel and he gets the zoomies outside.”
What isn’t silly is the way Maddox has changed Mike’s life. Mike says, “The Can Do Canines team worked really hard to find me a good match.” They appreciate everyone who supports Can Do Canines too, imparting, “Thank you for Maddox! You people make it possible for people like me to have a dog who is trained.” In fact, he sums up his new circumstances, saying, “My life is so good. I feel excited with Maddox in it.”
This successful mobility team is just one great example of how independence is going up, and frustration is going down.
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Lisa Hesch
Puppy Raiser: Stanley Correctional Institution
Special Thanks: Wendy Patterson
Whelping Home: Larry & Angie LaBathe
You: Thank you for your donations!