Meg Schneider & Mobility Assist Dog Quest
Meg Schneider has never been one to back down from a challenge. She is a spunky, intelligent 11th grader who lives with her family in St. Joseph, Minn. She keeps busy with schoolwork and friends, despite having cerebral palsy, which makes daily life difficult.
“I need help with walking—some things are a little harder for me,” explains Meg. “My right side doesn’t work as well as my left side does.” Meg tried using crutches and a cane to help with walking, but after having major leg surgery a few years ago, her mobility decreased even more. She found herself tiring easily and began having trouble balancing.
A friend suggested to Meg’s mother, Joanne, that a Can Do Canines assistance dog might be just the thing the high schooler needs to live her life to the fullest. Joanne agreed. “Meg wants to be a typical teenager,” Joanne stated in her application. “This is impossible with an adult assisting her. I believe she can do everything she needs to at school independently if she had an assistance dog.”
Can Do Canines partnered Meg with a two-year-old black Labrador retriever named Quest. Together, the two have become an unstoppable team. When out in public together, Quest acts as a brace; Meg grabs onto a handle on Quest’s vest which helps steady her as she walks.
“I don’t need my parents help with walking anymore,” Meg says. “I can walk much straighter with Quest’s help. I can stand up straighter. Everything is going a little faster for me now.” Though she admits the training was an intense process, Meg was up for the challenge and used it as motivation to be more active. Meg’s entire family has noticed that her energy has increased.
“It’s a lot easier,” Meg’s father Kurt says. “She’s gotten much stronger, she has much more responsibility, and it keeps her alert. She’s sharper.”
Quest has gone above and beyond in assisting Meg in all aspects of her life. Meg has a downstairs bedroom and Quest will retrieve items she needs from upstairs and bring them down to her. When out in public, the Lab picks up items that she drops, carries items for her and opens automatic doors. Though they are busy with going to school every day, they still fit in exercise and training together. Meg says walk two miles around a track each day.
“When we first got Quest, I thought there was no way she’s going to get up at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning,” Kurt says. What happened next surprised him, as he started finding both of them up early and ready every day. “She sets her alarm clock now and gets herself up. There’s no worries, she feeds him, and it’s good for her.”
Not only has Quest helped Meg feel more confident in doing things on her own, but her parents feel more secure with him being her companion. The family admits that they weren’t able to find the right dog while searching out other assistance dog organizations, but Can Do Canines was the perfect fit. By matching Quest and Meg together, an amazing partnership has formed.
“We feel like we won the lottery,” Kurt explains. “He’s so doggone smart that he’s teaching us! It’s just really cool the way he’s helping Meg. I think one day soon he’ll help her to live on her own.”