Amy has had multiple sclerosis since 2007, and in the past few years, her disability has become more progressive. “I get lightheaded sometimes when I bend to pick up things off the floor,” she explains. She also has difficult walking more than a few steps unassisted, and it’s not uncommon for her to fall or slip to the floor. “I did my best to keep my cell phone handy,” says Amy.
While Amy was working with her occupational therapist in 2021, the therapist suggested that she consider an assistance dog. Amy remembers thinking, “I wonder what a dog could do for me.”
The answer: A lot.
Amy works entirely from home for her job, taking calls related to dental insurance claims, and doesn’t have much need to go out in public. Yet, she wished to be more self-sufficient at home.
Can Do Canines found the perfect homebody partner for her in Jackson, a black Lab that Amy describes as handsome, with jowls like an old man’s.
Their similar low-energy personalities work great together, also being in sync with Amy’s 14-year-old Shitzu, Flora.
There is definitely no shortage of dog beds in Amy’s house. Family and friends helped welcome Jackson into the home with multiple beds: one for the living room, Amy’s office, and Jackson’s kennel. Although Jackson is more than happy to konk out on the kitchen floor, Amy says, “The humans in his life determined that he should not always be forced to.” Amy also jokes that he sometimes even tries to stake claim on Flora’s much smaller accommodations. “He’ll just get the idea in his head to curl up his 73-pound self and try to shoehorn himself into a bed for a 10-pound dog.”
Though Jackson doesn’t mind these relaxing moments of conserving his energy, helping Amy conserve her own energy is his top goal. Whether it’s bringing Amy’s walker to her, retrieving her shoes, tugging the laundry basket, or opening and closing doors, Jackson puts his Skilled Home Companion skills to good use for his companion in their home. Amy’s appreciation is palpable, especially as she shares, “He's shown that he can apply his skills to different situations … The "legs" command can be used to nudge my leg into the car, not just onto the bed.”
In addition, Jackson can make sure someone can be alerted to give Amy help when needed, pressing an appropriate button. “It’s a relief to know that he can do things to get attention if something happens,” Amy confirms. “It’s definitely another level of security.”
Amy only has one unfulfilled request of her furry friend. Having recently invested in a new hand-held vacuum, she jokes, “If he could just run that, it’d be great!”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser — Jackson Correctional Institution
Great Start Home — Sara VanderLugt
Whelping Home — Dana and Pete Kittok
Special Thanks — Kathy and Mark Broten
Name-A-Puppy Donor — Optum