Growing up with a disability means only knowing a life of adaptations. This can make it challenging to see the need for additional help. Callie had a stroke as a newborn baby, leaving her with left-sided hemiparesis. She has very limited use of her left arm and leg, along with some other physical challenges. She also started having seizures when she was 18, and while medication has helped manage them, she still experiences a petit mal seizure every few weeks.
Callie enjoys dance classes, working at a local fast-food restaurant, and has been envisioning moving into her own home. Even with medications, braces for her arm and leg, and help from her parents, Callie still sought a way to increase her safety and decrease reliance on others. She looked online and learned about assistance dogs, then applied to Can Do Canines for a Mobility Assist Dog that could also help with seizure response tasks.
The Next Step to Independence
Ultra is a 3-year-old black Labrador Retriever who loves to love and has been described as a dog who “wants to become a part of his person.” Callie had only been around smaller dogs, but she trusted Ultra and welcomed him into her life. Callie says Ultra is “very hard-working and happy,” and he rarely leaves her side.
Ultra makes a difference by retrieving items Callie drops and has been incredibly helpful in opening doors. He tugs open the heavy pull-out freezer bottom drawers, and can help with closing the front door as they leave their Eden Prairie house. This saves her strength, time and energy. Ultra accompanies her on public outings where he can pick up items on the ground along the way. Beyond his mobility skills, Ultra knows when Callie starts seizing and begins to lick her face and lie across her lap. This helps her regain awareness sooner and have a focal point. Callie remarks that he makes her feel safer. Her medical situation is not as stressful for her to deal with.
A Grateful Mother Watches Transformation
Callie’s mom, Jan, says she’s been amazed to see what Ultra is able to do for Callie--it’s like giving her the use of her left hand again. He’s been an incredible companion. Callie has not been as fatigued as she used to be. The family notices a change in Callie’s confidence. Callie is proud of Ultra, and her parents are proud of her. Ultra is loved by everyone in the home, but definitely has chosen Callie as his other half.
Callie is most grateful for more independence. To those who made her new adventure a reality she says, “Thank you!” Jan adds to her sentiment, “He really is an awesome dog…We can certainly tell how much love and training have gone into him. And how much support you give the family! We didn’t know what we were doing, so we appreciate you’re still here and will always be here...It’s just amazing to me.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Larry Meehan
Puppy Raiser: Federal Correctional Institution-Sandstone
Special Thanks: Tim Bachmeier, Julie Sandvich, University of Minnesota
Whelping Home: Lindsay K Merkel
You: Thank you for your donations!