Bella and Mobility Assist Dog Blaine
By Hanna Kantor
Life is full of transitional periods where we watch our lives change. One notable example of this is starting high school. We enter a place where, suddenly, we have more freedom than we once did, but not as much as we would like, and we get thrust into a new social hierarchy that we must learn to navigate. This is the world Bella from Plymouth, Minnesota recently entered. However, Bella has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which can make this transition more challenging.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a disease that makes it difficult to use one’s muscles, resulting in their weakening and shrinking. For Bella, this means she uses a powerchair because her legs are incapable of supporting her body. She has a limited range of movement in her arms but maintains decent dexterity in her fingers. She doesn’t have the strength to do many everyday things like lifting a glass of water, picking up dropped items and opening drawers. Because of this, Bella and her mom worried about her staying home alone because she may not be able to get help if she needed it.
As high school loomed in the near future, Bella researched ways to gain independence. She and her mom decided an assistance dog would be the perfect option for her and began searching for organizations in the area. Their search came to an end when they saw Can Do Canines on Kare 11. Bella soon thereafter applied for a dog.
In July 2017, Bella was matched with Mobility Assist Dog Blaine, a two-year-old black Labrador Retriever. The two bonded instantly, and it was clear they were a perfect match. Thanks to their connection, training went easier than Bella expected. Blaine has become such an integral part of the family that the Andrade’s even threw her a doggy shower; family members and friends all gathered at their home to celebrate and welcome Blaine. “I love her so much,” Bella says of her new companion.
Blaine has helped Bella gain the independence she’s been craving, giving her peace of mind to stay home alone. She opens doors, picks up dropped items, and can even help Bella reposition her arms. The team is working now towards Bella bringing Blaine along to school in 2018!
Bella attributes Blaine’s willingness to learn and her fantastic attitude to the Puppy Raisers. “Thank you so much,” she says. “This has changed my life forever and it makes me more independent. I can’t express how much I thank you for raising this dog.”
To see how Bella and Blaine work together, watch their video here.
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser: Diana Adamson and Paul Oberhaus
Special Thanks: The inmate handlers at FCI Sandstone
Name-A-Puppy Donor: Terry Wold and District 5M7 Lions
You: Thank you for your donations!