As a young adult in his 20s, Joshua never expected a neurological disorder to slow down his trek through life. After he started experiencing symptoms of his feet going numb, he was eventually diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis. This affects him primarily being unable to control his balance, but also causes chronic pain in his legs, which is expected to worsen over time. Loss of reflexes in his knees has forced Joshua to use a cane, walker, and a scooter to get around. He struggled with not being able to work anymore and adjusting to life with a disability.
A lady in the grocery store who noticed his motorized cart offered him a card with Can Do Canines information. Joshua was thrilled with the prospect of a dog helping him stay safer, so he applied for a Mobility Assist Dog.
Hunter, a 2-year-old black Labrador Retriever, has the perfect demeanor to match Joshua’s quiet energy. Josh remembers the day they met, sharing, “He is just a bundle of joy and stole my heart.”
Hunter is a non-stop helper around the house by getting Joshua’s cane, utensils, remote, and walking equipment, plus so much more. Hunter even assists Joshua with unloading groceries, getting dressed, cleaning up his toys to the bin, and dragging a laundry basket through the apartment. There are plenty of doors that Hunter tugs to open and close, including sliding glass doors, the closet door, and the apartment door. Joshua says he’s still able to mostly use his arms and hands but Hunter saves him from leaning over, meaning fewer falls. Even if Joshua passes out, which happened not long ago while he was alone in his apartment, Hunter served as a catalyst for his recovery.
A bonus Joshua mentions is Hunter bringing him out of his shell to be more social and active, despite MS limiting his mobility. Joshua says he had been withdrawing from the world and that sometimes dealing with his disability was isolating. Thanks to Hunter, however, he is reclaiming his life and engaging in ways to improve his mental health.
The Start of Something Wonderful
In reflection, Joshua shares he is grateful to everyone involved with Can Do Canines. “I can’t say thank you enough! These dogs create such joy, independence, and safety for everyone that needs one.” He says individuals with disabilities are not generally wealthy or treated with dignity, so he admires all the people who had a part in this positive experience. Joshua is ecstatic to welcome Hunter into his life, saying, “He has given my life more purpose, which I struggle with. He is so smart and can do so much! I look forward to the future with him!”