Monday, August 2, 2010

Hi and welcome!

I'm Eva! I'm 27 and have quadriplegic cerebral palsy. I use a power wheelchair to get around and I am non-verbal. I am a college graduate and am planning to go to grad school in a year from now. Although I have full-time aides that help me out, I have always wanted a service dog to help me be more independent.

I have always loved dogs. I have volunteered for the humane society, owned a dog-walking business, and have always had pet dogs. All this was done with the physical assistance of my aides, with me directing them on what to do. As I got into my mid-twenties, I thought it would be helpful to have a service dog. So I called up all the famous service dog organizations and explained who I am and what I want my dog to do. Many of the organizations refused me off the bat because I am non-verbal. Others had crazy restrictions for non-verbal people like you must have a "guardian"with you and the dog at all times. The few places that accepted non-verbal people had a 7-10 year wait-list and I wanted my dog in time for graduate school. I know these organizations work really great for some people, but it was not for me.

Instead of giving up and saying, "Oh well," I decided to do it myself. I found a woman who trains and boards service dogs and guide dogs for a living. She knew of a breeder who had a dog who she thought would be perfect for me. My dog will be trained just for me, responding to my subtle commands, and without all the crazy bureaucracy that comes with other service dog organizations. My dog is a North American Retriever, a fancy name for a mix of lab, golden retriever, and standard poodle. He was bred for service work and is training along with his litter-mate and his half-brother (both becoming service dogs as well). I will be highly involved in his training, visiting and taking him out at least 3 times a week. This blog will document our progress, training hiccups, successes, and general puppy cuteness. I am also being filmed for a documentary!

I'm really excited and a little nervous since all this service dog stuff is new to me. I have been researching a lot but it's time to put my research into practice. Enjoy our journey! Picture of Bailey, a Labrador Retriever/Standard Poodle dog on Dogster
#1 dog site for dogs and bipeds!


  1. He's beautiful! I'm looking forward to this blog, and also to the documentary. Cheers! -AG

  2. He's so cute! All the restrictions they try to place on you for getting a service dog are ridiculous. Why should being non-verbal make a difference??? I'm sure the dogs don't judge like people do. Good luck in his training; can't wait to hear more =)

  3. i can see why people may think being non verbal would make a difference but if the dog is trained to respond to eva's non verbal commands than it will be a great relation ship. most service dogs are trained initially by all verbal comands because most who get service dogs are verbal. well I am so happy for you eva and can't wait to see the documentery keep us all posted im excited to see your journey through your blog

  4. Hello, I am pleased to have a very small part in Eva's journey (as the breeder who produced her puppy) and I just wanted to say that dogs are unique and sensitive creatures. We humans seem to forget that dogs do not speak our native languages! *smile* They learn our commands, not because they understand the verbalization but because they pay attention to our expressions. It has been my experience that dogs learn to communicate with other beings in very personal ways and I am certain that Bailey and Eva will find a special method of communication that will help them create a successful, life-long partnership.
    Best wishes Eva, Laurie and Bailey!

  5. Loving the updates, Eva! I'm excited to get more as you embark on this adventure with Bailey.

  6. Hey Eva,
    Beautiful dog. I am happy for you after all the start and stops during this journey in finding a new dog. Norah and Colin love this guy's face.
    Good luck,
    love your uncle john

  7. I am sure I will love this site along with Deal with Disability. You go Girl and Pup! Uncle Dan

  8. Wow, I am so happy for you and Bailey, both! Have a blast!

  9. Cute dog. My dog's name is Bailey, too.

  10. Hello Eva! It's Marion Melchiorre. I just met you last night at the San Marino Art Gallery.
    First of all, lets talk dogs.
    Dogs respond to hand signals and body language more then to words. So you have all you need. I'm sure you are experiencing this already.
    Bailey is elegant,spirited,and drop-dead gorgeous. I once had a black standard Poodle,so I know the personality.
    My photographer friend, Skye Moorhead,
    has two black sister laberdoodles.( 1/4 poodle/3/4 lab). Skye does fabulous portraits of dogs ..action and still.You can see at least one of her dogs, Augustine, here. Otter is much curlier and the trouble maker.
    Skye was at the event last night. I''d love to have you meet her. So let's figure out when and where. I leave for PA on the 21st. Perhaps after T-day?
    You tell me when it would be good for you.
    Much love, Marion

    Looking forward to meeting up with you again.