Michelle Mehrer and Mobility Assist Dog Gayle
By Bill Johnson
Like many Minnesotans, Michelle Mehrer crams a lot of outdoor activities into the fleeting warm-weather months. The south Minneapolis resident enjoys long walks around the lakes, as well as to the grocery store, a coffee shop, and several restaurants. She also attends Twins games and concerts. And most mornings, if the weather’s nice, you’ll find her out on the deck eating breakfast.
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 28 years ago, Michelle depends on her power chair, along with Mobility Assist Dog Gayle, to lead an active life, regardless of the season. “Without Gayle, I probably wouldn’t get out of the house as much. She keeps me involved in my neighborhood and community,” says Michelle.
Gayle, a Black Labrador Retriever, handles a variety of everyday tasks, such as picking up dropped objects like Michelle’s cell phone or an item in the grocery store. She also opens and closes drawers and doors.
“I drop a lot of stuff,” admits Michelle. “In the past, if I was out in public and didn’t bring my grabber, I’d have to wait for someone to come along and then ask them to pick up the dropped item.”
Even when she has her grabber, Michelle expends a surprising amount of energy to retrieve items off the floor—energy she prefers to reserve for other activities. “Having Gayle perform these tasks might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it means a lot to me. My hands tend to tire easily, which is why I start dropping things in the first place. So the less energy I have to spend doing those things, the better.”
Michelle describes Gayle’s personality as “goofy and sweet.” However, she’s quick to add, “Gayle is smart, and she loves to work!” The personable canine also behaves well in public. Restaurants are a frequent destination for the duo, and “Gayle is very good at going under the table and not begging,” she says.
It’s hard to place a tangible value on the services and companionship Gayle provides. But for Michelle, there’s no doubt about the impact on her life. “I definitely feel more independent and that my life is more full.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser: Sue Johnson & family
Special Thanks: The inmate handlers at FCI Sandstone
Name-A-Puppy Donor: Mitch and Wendy Peterson
Team Sponsor: Faye and Ken LeDoux
You: Thank you for your donations!