Carlene White, founder of Service Dog Project in Ipswich, MA, trains and places Great Danes with people who live with Multiple Sclerosis, Friedreich’s ataxia, and veterans with disabilities. She updates us regularly with stories of those she helps.
“10 year old Bella has spent her life on crutches, in a wheelchair or being carried by mom. A simple thing like walking home from school was totally out of the question. But now she has George. It is an improbable team, she weighs 47 pounds, George is 155 pounds. Yet they are a perfect partnership.
Before they were a partnership, Bella spent many weekends at the Service Dog Project Farm in Ipswich, MA with 50 or so Danes when suddenly George and she “clicked”. They became an inseparable devoted team. As a service dog, the partnership is a 24 hour one. He goes wherever she goes, by law: restaurants, airplanes, school or the hospital when she goes for treatments for Morquio Syndrome. As Bella and George wander the hospital, he has become the hospital’s cheerful diversion by playing the role of part time therapy dog.
There is a big difference between service and therapy dogs. Therapy dogs have access by invitation only. Service dogs have access by law. Anywhere you can take a cane or wheelchair you may take a service dog. There is one “if”: if a service dog does not behave perfectly, the law states they may be asked to leave. Public access is critical for those people who are dependent on their service dogs. To falsify credentials in not only shameful, in some places it is punishable by law.
George has 9 new brothers and sisters at Service Dog Project. His mother delivered the pups live on the Explore.org Nursery Camera. Their progress can be followed 24/7. These pups are not for sale, they are specially bred for service work, their training will take about a year, at which time they will be donated free of charge to persons in need of a balance walker dog. You may watch their progress as they play in the fields and grow to be someone’s invaluable partner.
P.S. Bella and George have their own Facebook page – updated almost daily.”