When Debi Stave’s daughter recommended she look into applying for an assistance dog,
Debi could not have imagined what a difference a canine companion could make in her life. Debi had never owned a dog before and is now living proof that it’s never too late to learn a new trick. She has been adjusting to life with Parkinson’s disease for the past eight years and didn’t initially think she needed a dog to help her. Debi remembers wondering, “Well what could he do for me?” Her initial doubt changed quickly, once Stanley moved in “I learned different, having him,” She says.
Debi’s main mobility issue affected by Parkinson’s is “freezing”, or being suddenly and temporarily unable to control movement. Medical professionals have not been able to help her solve the problem. She finds it challenging to walk, and if she drops things, she isn’t always able to safely retrieve them. Debi uses adaptive equipment to help navigate daily activities, even a walker specifically created for use with Parkinson’s patients, but there was still a gap in her health care team to be filled.
Stanley Saves the Days
Through Can Do Canines, Debi was matched with Stanley, a two-year-old Labrador Retriever with the patience of a saint, who is happy to remain engaged with Debi whether she is moving or frozen. Stanley helps tug open her heavy sliding patio door, or the refrigerator door that tends to need a firm yank which often throws her off-balance. If Debi is able to move enough to reach for something she needs, there is a chance she might tip off-balance and fall. If there is a time where Debi needs more help than Stanley can provide, he can retrieve Debi’s phone and return it to her no matter where she is in the house. Debi had an emergency button installed with her security system, so if she needs first responders she can cue Stanley to activate the push plate installed on the wall. Stanley is able to help her feel safe and give her back time, energy, and peace of mind.
Support Team Welcomes New Member
Debi’s family and friends are thrilled to see her helpful housemate, they don’t have to worry as much with this newly added level of safety for Debi. Out in public, Debi constantly had to ask for help and wait for others to assist her, but now she has more independence. Most dogs that Debi has met in the past have been very high-energy, so Stanley’s calm demeanor has impressed her. She works hard to get through a freezing moment and it can often be incredibly frustrating. During this time Stanley is quietly supporting and waiting attentively which helps Debi to refocus and keep moving. Stanley makes good moments even better, she says. “He’s a joy to have around. Since it’s just me in the house, it’s nice to have someone else with me.”
She is excited about graduation and is grateful for the people that “made him, HIM.”
Special Thanks To
Whelping Home: Karin Balgaard
Great Start Home: Mary Spencer
Puppy Raiser: Dyan Larson