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With my very first steps my parents observed that I walked on my toes. A plethora of orthopedists, orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists and any other kind of “ists” you might think of and I still have a severely altered gait. I’ve had 6 corrective surgical procedures; my leg muscles remain atrophied, my calf muscles are prone to severe spasms and this results in my being very unstable on my feet. I experience severe fatigue after minimal exertion. The fine motor skills in my hands have been diminished although my hands are still strong (thank goodness.) At the age of 21, the diagnosis is still unknown and the quest continues.
When my mother first proposed that I consider a service dog I couldn’t see the point. How would a dog be able to help me when the doctors could not? Anyone who knows my mom is well aware of her stubborn streak when it comes to her sons. She quietly and diligently researched service dog organizations, and more importantly (and to the embarrassment of my father,) would go right up to strangers that were accompanied by service dogs and ask questions. She gathered all this information and presented it to me; leaving me to decide if getting a service dog was something I would consider after reviewing the facts.
This information prompted me to do my own research and I concluded that a dog might actually be a good idea. The dog would be able to provide stability for my weird walk and lack of balance. The dog would be able to help me with my wheelchair when I was too fatigued to go on. An assistance dog would be trained to retrieve items that I drop, turn on lights when I don’t have the strength to get up, and would provide me with the independence I really craved. I wanted to be able to travel my college campus; to get out and about more often; to start living life fully.
Mom did some additional research and believed that Genesis Assistance Dogs, Inc. would be the best provider of a service dog to meet my needs. That turned out to be the understatement of all times!
Motive is the most incredible, intelligent, intuitive golden retriever on the planet! He is also the most beautiful. There really are no words to express how much Mo has changed my life. Not only does Motive provide the stability and safety I need when walking but he retrieves things for me when I drop them. Mo instinctively knows when I am not feeling well and lies right there with me for hours. Motive is also the family clown. Tossing toys in the air and running crazy figure eights around our black lab Samantha is a favorite game. Mo-Mo loves everyone in my family and will obey commands from them if I am out of his sight, (which is rare). They all adore him.
Now, I am one of the people my mom used to ask questions of and people do the same to me. I don’t mind at all. I now believe it’s my job to inform and educate those that are interested in assistance dogs. No age is too young to start either. Motive and I recently visited a pre-school and interacted with about 20 four and five year olds. Their questions were so insightful and Motive was spot-on. This was my first experience in a group presentation situation with Motive and I think I enjoyed it more than the children. Mo and I will be doing more visits within our community.
Learning to work as a team with Motive was so worth the energy expended. It was intense, physically demanding, and there was so much to learn. I’m still learning. If you are considering applying for a service dog you need to know that you are making a life-long commitment to work hard and be successful. The return is immeasurable.
Motive is perfect! He’s a hard worker and always ready to help. Motive is a blessing and he is my best bud. My life will never be the same…it’s gotten better.
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