Saint Francis Service Dogs is a non-profit organization that helps injured US veterans, children, and adults with disabilities to become more independent and self-sufficient through partnerships with professionally trained service dogs. Today we’re talking with Leigh about her service dog partner Pato.
What do you and your dog like to do together for fun?
My Saint Francis Service Dog Pato makes my life brighter and more fun–even in ways I never expected. The sweet golden retriever brings his special joy to EVERYTHING we do together. Before Pato, I used to consider laundry a chore, but with him, it’s actually fun! Seeing how happy Pato is as he tugs my laundry basket through the house for me always makes me laugh. I guess the difference between housework and fun ultimately depends on perspective.
When it’s time to relax, Pato and I always like a good game of fetch or a walk to enjoy nature. My tennis ball-focused dog also loves watching my husband and me play ping pong (we consider him our referee); even though he isn’t allowed to join in the game, Pato’s eyebrows dance as he watches the ball bounce back and forth on the table. I can almost hear him saying, “Ah yes, I KNEW you folks had some retriever in your blood!”
On rainy days, Pato and I dance around our house. Since Pato’s training includes words like “left, right, come, back, down, wait, and up,” dancing is a fun way to keep his skills sharp while also having lots of fun. Like me, Pato loves all sorts of music. Our current favorite dance tunes are courtesy of Stevie Wonder.
What is your dog’s favorite thing to eat?
Pato is what my family would call a ‘good eater’. In addition to his regular meals, he is fond of cheese, pumpkin, and boiled chicken. His love for bananas is so great that he has earned the nickname ‘Monkey’.
How has your dog blessed your life?
When folks ask me the meaning behind my Saint Francis Service Dog’s name, I tell them that to me his name stands for Perfect Answer To Obstacles. That’s what Pato is to me. He helps me turn challenges into triumphs. Living with congenital cerebral palsy is far from easy. I cannot trust my own body to do what I want it to do. But I CAN trust Pato! My Saint Francis Service Dog helps me define myself not by what I must overcome, but by what I have the courage to become. His unspoken yet unwavering love conveys a powerful message: “You are my partner and my purpose. I’m here for you no matter what.” Sometimes the sweetest blessings can pass from one heart to another without a word.