Ridge knows the drill. As a successor client, Ridge's history with service dogs is extensive. Breeze is his third dog from Can Do Canines since becoming a client in 2006, and he trained a couple of dogs prior to that on his own. Despite having faced premature retirement with his 2019 Mobility and Hearing Assist Dog, Peggy, Ridge kept his heart open and ready to embrace a new partner.
This summer, he was paired with Breeze, and says, “She is just perfect for me ... She makes me be a better person.”
Ridge has Multiple Sclerosis, hearing loss, and vision issues, so Breeze had big paws to fill in learning a variety of skills. Ridge says, “I drop things a lot, including my guide cane. I always drop that.” Whether Breeze is picking up dropped items, tugging open doors, or alerting Ridge to different sounds, she allows Ridge to have a more independent life. “I don’t have to depend on other people,” he states.
Wearing a patch on one eye, Ridge also relies a bit on Breeze’s vision. He explains that when they are out and about, he uses his guide cane but says, “She will show me where curbs are at and changes in elevation, you know, things like that. She will step up on them or stop at them.” He is also familiarizing her with the elevators at Mayo Clinic, where he regularly goes for appointments. When they are waiting at the bank of six elevators and they hear a signal that one has arrived, he asks Breeze, “Show me,” so she can direct Ridge to the correct one.
Breeze’s energy level matches well with Ridge’s lifestyle. Though they enjoy going on walks and playing indoors, she has a mellow personality overall. “Breeze loves to cuddle all the time, and I like that,” Ridge admits.
Being able to share life with an assistance dog like her is, well … a Breeze, and Ridge definitely appreciates it. He says, “There are really no words that I can say to say ‘thank you.’ There are no words to express how I feel. Losing my vision and hearing, I cannot train my own dogs anymore. I just don't have the ability, and without Can Do Canines, I wouldn't be able to. I wouldn’t have the independence without Breeze. I … I … There aren’t words.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser — Stanley Correctional Institution
Great Start Home — Christine Laney
Whelping Home — Lindsay Merkel
Special Thanks — Barb Verhage