Katherine describes herself as having been a “very, very active person,” sometimes having biked 100 miles in a day. So learning in 2004 that she had multiple sclerosis (MS) was a blow. “It was a difficult diagnosis for me,” she recalls.
Upon advice from the MS Society, Katherine applied with Can Do Canines in 2010 and was accepted as a client. She says, “I was just thrilled that they would consider me for a service dog.” That year, a black Lab named Summer became Katherine’s first Can Do Canine, and they had a wonderful 12-year partnership. After Summer passed away in Winter 2022, Katherine's continuing need for an assistance dog drew her to reach out to Can Do Canines for another assistance dog.
Summer’s successor, Bing, is a combination black Lab and Golden Retriever. Describing Bing as “snuggly” and “amazingly smart,” Katherine considers him “a steadfast companion.” Bing brings a male presence to the neighborhood women’s walking group and gets plenty of steps in at home too. Katherine explains, “He follows me from room to room and picks up things anytime I want it.” That full-service attention is a relief for Katherine who has weakness in her left arm and left leg and no longer walks.
Bing also opens and closes doors and drawers and helps with the laundry. He’s even willing to lend his own “green paw” when they are gardening together or serve as an assistant baker when they are concocting delicious desserts in the kitchen.
Regardless of the activity, they revel in their shared bond. “We take care of each other,” says Katherine. And given the strength of their partnership, Katherine adds, “I feel hopeful about the future.” Wanting to bring similar hope to others, she went through our Ambassador Training and speaks to groups about the benefits of Can Do Canines.
She also sings the praises of Can Do Canines staff member Elizabeth, saying, ”Elizabeth is just so knowledgeable and adaptable. If one thing doesn’t work, we’ll try another. She’s just really been wonderful to work with.”
Others have earned Katherine’s appreciation too. She says, “I know there’s a lot of work that goes into every dog. Everyone involved is unbelievable. I'm thankful to each and every one.” Moreover, Katherine easily shares that being involved with Can Do Canines is “one of the best things that’s happened to me in my life.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser — Stanley Correctional Institution
Great Start Home — Carol Johnson
Whelping Home — Lindsay Merkel
Special Thanks — Stephen Todey and Jennifer Anderson
Team Sponsor — Ramsey Lions Club