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!
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