“Sunshine on four legs” is how Amy describes her new Mobility Assist Dog, Mosby, a 3-year-old black Lab. “Any space he’s in, he just fills it with light,” she said.
The light in Amy’s world wasn’t seeming very bright in early 2021. Her previous Can Do Canine, a black Lab named Dinger, developed cancer in 2020 and passed away, after they had been together for eight years. Amy was heartbroken. She and Dinger had navigated a lot together, including college. So Amy, who has cerebral palsy, knew she couldn’t return to a life without an assistance dog. “I didn’t want to go back to feeling overwhelmed. I didn’t want to go back to feeling scared of going to a conference, or trying to navigate a mall or standing in line,” she admitted.
Those concerns for Amy stem from balance issues, fatigue, sensory integration challenges, a risk of falling and more—all symptoms of her condition. Getting Dinger had calmed those fears. She stated, “I feel like it’s inaccurate to say that these dogs enhance your life. They turn it upside down in the best way possible and they make it possible for you to live your life the way you want to.”
Life with Mosby looks slightly different, though. Amy explains, “I tried very hard to avoid using adaptive equipment for a lot of years. I’m at the point now where it is no longer optional,” so she has begun using a walker. Previously, Dinger provided walking assistance with Amy using a hard handle, giving her a direct tactile connection to him. She was nervous about having to learn to walk with Mosby, and thought, “Will we figure out how to handle this big piece of rolling metal between us?”
Coming to Amy well versed in the activity, Mosby wasn’t fazed one bit. He quickly retrieves the walker when Amy doesn’t feel stable enough to get it herself, and then off they go. “Mosby has been helping me to integrate the equipment both physically and emotionally.” On the emotional level, Amy still finds herself getting frustrated when the walker gets stuck, for instance. “I think Mosby is very good at helping me think my way through those situations,” she said. “It’s more of a team effort than I was expecting, which is wonderful.” Plus, true to Mosby form, if Amy is ever upset, she can practically hear Mosby telling her, “No, I won’t allow it. I will lick you until it’s better. You will be happy. I will make it so.”
Whether it’s with happy kisses or by “turning himself into a compression blanket” to relieve Amy’s anxieties, Amy said Mosby “makes it possible for me to get through my day without feeling like I am totally overwhelmed.”
Taking one day at a time, the team is ready to trek toward new milestones, with Amy considering big opportunities like buying her own house, going to graduate school and transitioning to a new career. The independence that comes with having an assistance dog gives her the confidence to believe in these possibilities. She shares, “I feel like Can Do Canines has given me a way to manage my cerebral palsy with dignity.”
“Thank you is never going to be enough,” Amy stated, and when thinking about the many volunteers who helped move Mosby through puppyhood, she added, “I’ve had dogs my whole life, so I’m very, very aware of just how fast and hard those bonds can form. I’m just so unspeakably grateful to all the people who have touched Mosby and loved him and then made the conscious choice to give him up so that he can be with me . . . This dog isn’t my pet. He’s quite literally the life the way I want and choose to live it.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Dyan Larson
Puppy Raiser: Stanley Correctional Institution
Special Thanks: The LaBathe Family, Sandy Herrala
You: Thank you for your donations!