Kimberly Hodges and Mobility Assistance Dog Shirley
Author: Susan Byers
It’s been nearly 20 years since Kimberly Hodges from Burnsville, Minn. was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). But thanks to her can do attitude – and two Can Do Canines – Kimberly is standing tall, literally and figuratively.
“I’m blessed because I’m still vertical,” she explains. “That’s my goal – to keep walking.”
Thankfully, the MS progressed slowly for the first ten years. But over time, Kimberly became marginally worse – more wobbly and at greater risk of falling. That’s when a girlfriend suggested a Mobility Assist Dog from Can Do Canines.
In 2009, she received a smooth-coated Collie named Bishop from Can Do Canines, who she described as “a great partner.” Sadly, Bishop retired in 2015, due to arthritis. Kimberly then relocated in Florida to avoid the cold winters. But when she returned to Minnesota, she sought out Can Do Canines again.
In February of this year, Kimberly began working with Mobility Assist Dog Shirley, a two-year-old standard Poodle. In their short time together, Shirley has proven herself to be an equally great companion. “She brings joy to my life and stability to my walking,” Kimberly says.
Without Shirley, Kimberly would need to rely on a cane or cart. With Shirley, she is able to regularly go for walks, sometimes twice a day. “Getting out of the house is good for me – and good for her,” she noted.
At home, Shirley serves as a soft counterbalance for Kimberly – steadying her gait and helping to open heavy doors. “Having Shirley around is so reassuring,” Kimberly explains. “She picks things up, so I don’t have to bend over and risk falling. But if I do fall, she can brace me so I can get back up.”
Kimberly also does physical therapy to build strength and meditation to manage stress. Of course, Shirley’s constant and calm presence at Kimberly’s side provides stress relief as well – along with a great sense of security. “Shirley is very astute,” Kimberly says. “She alerts me if someone is outside, and she always seems aware of what’s going on.”
“I feel very blessed to have Shirley, and I’m forever grateful to the puppy raisers, donors and volunteers who support Can Do Canines,” Kimberly adds tearfully. “I urge everyone who can to give to this organization, so that others in need can experience the profound effect these amazing dogs can have on their lives.
Thanks to Can Do Canines, Kimberly is steadily moving forward. Slowly – but “Shirley.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser – Kolleen Herr
Special Thanks – Mike Ferber, Stephanie Christie
Dog donor – LeAnne Pomeroy
Team Sponsor – Jan Edwards and Danae Kasbi on behalf of the art and Gail Edwards Donor Advised Fund