Colton Rich & Mobility Assist Dog KC
Having cerebral palsy means things don’t happen quickly—lots of planning and preparation go into most everything. In 2012, as a high school freshman, Colton Rich started preparing for college by applying for a Mobility Assist Dog from Can Do Canines. Knowing this would be the first time he lived away from home, he wanted a partner on his journey to higher education. He found that partner in a three-year-old black Labrador retriever named KC.
Colton lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with his mother and aunt. His bigger than life personality and infectious smile reflect his outlook on life. He has big plans, including attending college at the University of Missouri, and wants to live as independently as possible. But with “spastic quadriplegia,” a result of his cerebral palsy, he knew he would need an assistant to help make that happen. Compared to quadriplegia, spastic quadriplegia is defined by spasticity of the limbs as opposed to strict paralysis. His disability means he will always need a power wheelchair for mobility and will consistently rely on others to assist with daily chores. With KC by his side, he knows he has a 24/7 companion to help him live the life he wants.
“I can look to KC to be the person to pick things up that I drop when there’s no one else around”, says Colton.
The moment KC came to Colton’s home his skills began to shine. Within no time he was picking up dropped items, opening doors, turning lights on and off and helping Colton take off his jacket. KC also got to show off his skills at school where he accompanies Colton as a four-legged high school senior.
“He goes everywhere with me,” says Colton, “He even came to a business competition I attended which was a four-hour bus ride from my house.” When Colton fell asleep, KC did what all dogs do and snuck off to get a few pats from Colton’s classmates.
“He almost got away with it,” Colton says with a big smile, “but the bus hit a bump as he was heading back on his bed and it woke me up. So I caught him in the act!”
Colton’s mom is thankful for KC and will sleep easier this fall knowing that her son is not alone when he goes off to college to follow his dreams of working in the health services field. Colton seconds her thoughts …
“The one thing I really like is that KC can ‘get help.’ So if I ever roll out of my bed in my dorm room I can depend on him to get someone, or at least get me a phone so I don’t have to lay there until I’m found in the morning.”
To all the people who helped make this partnership possible, Colton is forever grateful. He says there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when you have a disability and the impact of an assistance dog may be more than most even realize.
“People think that a wheelchair gives us mobility and fixes all our challenges, but there is a lot more than the general population sees. The dogs give us independence, so we don’t always have to ask for help. I cannot even imagine my life without KC.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser: The Niederloh Family
Dog Donated by: Kenneth Weikert
Short & Long-term Foster Homes: Diana Adamson & Paul Oberhaus; Sloan Hamilton; Janice Parrow; Randy Watkins
Name-A-Puppy Donor: Beth Cherryholmes