“A new dog never replaces an old dog; it merely expands the heart.” - Erica Jong.
In 2007, Cindy experienced a spinal infection, which caused chronic pain and neuropathy from the waist down. Combined with significant spine curvature from scoliosis, Cindy struggles with balance and routine movements. Over a decade ago, her doctor suggested that she look into an assistance dog to help with her increased mobility challenges and anxiety. Cindy was accepted at Can Do Canines and matched with Marley, her assistance dog for 12 years before Marley passed in 2019. Cindy struggled with grieving the loss of her friend and her lifeline, “I felt like I was back where I’d started. It was so scary.”
Her daughter, Delaney, came to live with her in Blaine after Marley’s passing, but it was difficult for Cindy to have to rely on another human for care. Delaney, along with other family members, were persistent in encouraging Cindy to reapply when she was ready for another assistance dog. As Cindy slowly moved through the hardship of accepting Marley’s absence, she knew that maintaining her safety had to be addressed. She applied to Can Do Canines again and was partnered with a successor mobility assist dog that brought light back in her world.
Enjoying a Better Quality of Life
Kroix is a 2-year-old black Labrador Retriever who gets along with everyone and loves earning attention from his person. Meeting him was emotionally and mentally overwhelming for Cindy, but as she remembers, “It was love at first sight.”
After having first gone through the client experience so many years ago, Cindy appreciates all the improvements and structure Can Do Canines has added since her placement with Marley. In training, Kroix builds not only his own confidence, but also Cindy’s confidence, through all the ways they bond and discover new things they can do together.
Leaning forward creates a challenge for Cindy. She says it makes her head feel like a bowling ball, so picking things up off the floor can be difficult and dangerous. To keep Cindy upright and safe, Kroix retrieves items that Cindy would otherwise need someone else to get, or choose to leave behind altogether. She says he is always nearby and touching her if possible, ready to jump in and save the moment. He activates push plates so Cindy can maneuver from her walker or manual chair, opens and closes drawers as well as doors, helps do the laundry, and tugs a rope that Cindy holds to assist her transitioning from sit to stand. “I have to know my limits, and where my limits stop, the dog just takes over,” describes Cindy.
Beyond trained tasks, Cindy shares that all the little things Kroix helps with really add up to enhance her quality of life. The pain of walking and moving is excruciating. Cindy says that petting a dog is better than taking a pain pill. Kroix’s personality is opposite of Marley’s, so Cindy admits she is truly unable to compare the two; she loves each in a similar but separate way.
Gratitude and Need, Now More than Ever
Kroix gives Cindy the sense of security and comfort to feel less alone and vulnerable. All of her family is ecstatic that Kroix is in her life. She is happier and more independent, thanks to him.
Recognizing that it may be more challenging for others to support Can Do Canines in the midst of a pandemic, Cindy expresses how much it means that she was still able to receive a dog, supplies, and ongoing training—all critical to the success of a team. With heartfelt gratitude, Cindy states, “I just can’t thank everyone enough for giving me the opportunity to love Kroix. He is just so much a part of my life that I feel like I got my life back.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Jami Stromberg
Puppy Raiser: Federal Correctional Institution-Waseca
Special Thanks: Dana Kittok, Chris Johnson, Derik Goodman, Jackson Correctional Institution
You: Thank you for your donations!