Dropping keys or a phone on the floor is no big deal for many people. For Jacob, who has cerebral palsy, uses a power chair, and lives alone, the situation can be cause for alarm. He says, “It’s kind of catastrophic if I drop stuff. It’s a mighty difficult task to even try to re-obtain the item. I have a reacher, but if I drop the reacher, then what do I do?”
One thing Jacob did over 10 years ago was reach out to Can Do Canines. In 2014, he certified with Mobility Assist Dog Inky, who was a faithful partner to Jacob until an unfortunate medical situation took Inky’s life.
Considering an assistance dog “a huge part of me being able to live on my own,” Jacob soon applied for a successor dog with Can Do Canines. In August 2023, a 3-year-old yellow Lab named Peyton came bouncing into Jacob’s life. “Peyton is full of energy and love and kisses,” beams Jacob.
That energy is put to good use, opening and closing doors and drawers, helping Jacob get winter gloves and other clothing items off, cleaning up items off the floor (even “cleaning up” himself once by jumping into the basket), and yes, retrieving everything Jacob drops. Even if Jacob accidentally pushes a remote onto the floor while sleeping, Peyton, who sleeps in an unlocked kennel, will pick up the remote and place it on the bed for Jacob. “He makes my life so much easier,” acknowledges Jacob.
Peyton brings additional benefits too. Jacob explains, “His happiness definitely improves my happiness, and his love is more than enough to get me through the day. In those brief moments when I’m feeling not so happy-go-lucky, he’s always there to check on me and make sure I’m all right.”
Jacob used to enjoy playing power hockey and power soccer and has goals to resume those in the future now with the added security Peyton gives him. “I’m hoping to get back into one or both of those at some point.”
He knows his continued ability to live alone comes from the generosity of others who were part of Peyton’s earlier life. “I just can’t thank them enough for their tireless work and dedication. I ended up with the finished product, but they’re the ones that mold the dog into what it will be.”
For Jacob, having an assistance dog has one ultimate advantage: “The companionship of having someone to care for and care about makes us better people I think.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Whelping Home — The Nervick Family
Raiser — Pat & Marti Gerdes, Jennifer & Shane Newman
Special Thanks — Federal Correctional Institution-Waseca, University of Minnesota FETCH Program
Team Sponsor — Ramsey Lions