Laurie Tschida and Mobility Assist Dog Tikki
Laurie Tschida lives in a quiet neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, Jim. After losing their Terrier, Lucy, things seemed even quieter. But now the house is much livelier with the addition of Tikki, Laurie’s Mobility Assist Dog.
“When we were first learning brace, I really needed help getting off the kitchen floor, and when [Tikki] did it for me I just started bawling,” Laurie says. “That just was everything to me … Then I knew that this was going to be right—that she was going to be the help I needed.”
The ball-obsessed Black Labrador Retriever has made a huge impact on Laurie’s life. “It makes me feel so good to know that when [Jim] can’t be here, she is. Just to pick up something. It sounds so minor but it’s not. It really is a big thing that she’s doing.”
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 26 years old, the disease has since progressed. It mainly affects her legs with muscle weakness and spasticity, as well as poor balance. Laurie is only able to stand for a limited time before she becomes fatigued and her legs give out. Because of this, she uses a variety of mobility equipment: a walker, scooter, motorized cart, and manual wheelchair. She also experiences some mental difficulties including brain fog, delays in her cognitive ability, and short-term memory loss under stress.
Laurie is a soft-spoken, music-loving, retired paralegal. Can Do Canines found her perfect match in Mobility Assist Dog Tikki. “When I was coming in for training—even though it was just the beginning—she knew that I was her person really quick,” Laurie says of their relationship. “She has just reaffirmed everything that I had hoped for and wanted. Everything she does is just amazing for me,” she says through tears.
Life was different before Tikki. “If I had gone to lunch by myself and Jim wasn’t there and I dropped something, I would have had to ask people [to help me].” Now that Tikki is there, Laurie doesn’t need to rely on others.
Independence is now a reality for Laurie. She and Tikki are able to go out to lunch alone, travel by plane more confidently, enjoy the outdoors securely, and feel safer at home on her own.
Laurie is so grateful to everyone that made her match with Tikki possible. “They made an unbelievable difference in my life,” she says. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Mary Bente
Puppy Raiser: FCI Duluth
Special Thanks: Long Term Foster home Kristina Kiefer