We are so fortunate to have a prolific partnership with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence (ADAI) that allows for our dogs to be placed with such wonderful partners. ADAI offers "Success Stories" on their website that highlight the impact which each of their dogs can have on their "forever person". Here are some of ADAI's success stories of dogs who got their starts in Wildcat Service Dogs.
Susan & "Franklin"
When Susan began to experience challenges after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence answered the call for help. Cody made it possible for me to accomplish more without the help of others,” Susan shares of her first service dog. Susan relied on Cody to hit her emergency call button, retrieve her cane, and pick up dropped items. Susan reflects on her time with Cody, “It is di cult to explain exactly all the ways my first service dog Cody impacted myself and my family’s lives. I had been an active nurse and mom prior to my first MS attack, which left me wheelchair dependent and feeling useless and helpless. Cody and I became partners in the spring class in 2007 and he was with me through both difficult and amazing times. With him, I became much more independent at home and in public. My stress and anxiety greatly decreased and I became more social.”
After Cody passed away, Susan knew it was important to continue her work with ADAI and begin a new journey with a new assistance dog. Franklin joined Susan’s family in November 2016. From their first meeting, the connection was undeniable. Franklin and Susan promptly got to work, focusing on what Susan needed most. Franklin is a half golden retriever, half Labrador from ADAI’s breeding program.
Susan says, “Most of my tasks around the house are completed easily with the help of a service dog. My gratitude is shown to my service dog with love, a ection, play, and keeping them mentally challenged and physically fit.”
Susan credits her assistance dogs for decreasing her physical and mental fatigue, leaving her feeling energized and alert.
Most importantly, Susan has a new partner and companion that will improve her life each and every day.
Susan & Franklin's story can be found here on the website of Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence.
Franklin began his training with Wildcat Service Dogs in the Fall of 2014 at 8 weeks old, with student puppy raiser Isabell Park. He graduated from WSD in the Summer of 2015 and moved on to advanced training at ADAI. In November of 2016, he was placed with his "forever person," Susan, as a mobility assistance dog.
Tyler & "Brady"
Tyler has lived with a brain tumor since he was seven years old. Though his condition has presented challenges throughout his life, being connected to ADAI has provided Tyler with companionship, confidence, and independence.
Tyler began his journey with ADAI in 1998. Since becoming connected to the organization, he has had two assistance dogs and received Brady, his first therapy dog, in spring 2016.
To Tyler, the dog he welcomes in his home is more than an assistance dog helping him with mobility skills, the dog becomes family. With an ADAI dog by his side, Tyler’s self-esteem skyrockets. Feeding and playing with the dog gives him joy and teaches him responsibility. Having an assistance dog not only enhances his physical wellbeing, but also his outlook on life. Tyler shares, “I am invisible without a dog.”
Brady is a two-year-old English Cream Golden Retriever and is the newest member of Tyler’s ADAI family. During their week-long team training session, Tyler and Brady sparked a quick connection. By the end of the week, Brady was able to perfectly understand Tyler’s command voice and followed his directions. Brady is very happy in his forever home, and we wish them many happy years of working together.
Tyler & Brady's story can be found here on the website of Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence.
Brady began his training with Wildcat Service Dogs in the Fall of 2014 at 8 weeks old, with student puppy raiser Jordan Canady. He graduated from WSD in the Summer of 2015 and moved on to advanced training at ADAI. In the Spring of 2016, he was placed with his "forever person," Tyler, as a therapy dog.
Karen & "Calvin"
In the fall of 2014, Karen wrote to ADAI sharing, “I love animals and people, and would take great care of a dog.” With this simple statement, Karen’s journey to companionship began.
Karen, who lives with multiple sclerosis, previously trained her own personal dog to help steady her as she walked, and assist her around the house. After her dog passed away and her multiple sclerosis progressed, she began searching for options. ADAI’s mission perfectly aligned with what Karen was searching for.
Calvin is a two-year-old black Labrador retriever that was matched with Karen in spring 2016. Since having Calvin, Karen has been a wonderful advocate for ADAI. She stresses the importance of assistance dogs any opportunity she can. Karen’s face lights up as she describes what having Calvin has meant for her self-esteem.
She keeps Calvin active and busy, joining her on all her social activities. He is constantly by her side providing her comfort and assistance each step of the way. Calvin has a purpose beyond just helping Karen; she takes him to a local nursing home to share Calvin’s infectious joy to the residents there. Karen loves taking Calvin on trips to the library, her medical appointments, and knitting club.
Calvin supports Karen around the house, retrieving the phone, picking up dropped items, and assisting her with laundry. She also takes him on three mile walks each day, making sure he gets enough exercise.
Karen credits ADAI for changing her life for the better and gifting her the best friendship she will ever find in her partner, Calvin.
Karen & Calvin's story can be found here on the website of Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence.
Calvin began his training with Wildcat Service Dogs in the Spring of 2014 at 8 weeks old, with student puppy raiser Savannah Shipp. He graduated from WSD in the Winter of 2015 and moved on to advanced training at ADAI. In the Spring of 2016, he was placed with his "forever person," Karen, as a mobility assistance dog.
Kelsi & "Jackson"
Seventh grader Kelsi lives in Martin's Ferry, Ohio with her grandparents, Donna and Roger. Like many thirteen-year-old girls, she is involved with cheerleading, having fun with friends, reading, playing on her iPod, swimming, and horseback riding. Unlike most girls her age, Kelsi lives with Cerebral Palsy. In the winter of 2011, Kelsi's grandmother sought after a service dog from Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence. She knew how beneficial an assistance dog could be for Kelsi. Donna wrote in to ADAI, explaining what a dog could do for her granddaughter. "A dog would provide so many opportunities for her and make her more independent. To have a dog who can open doors or pick items up off the floor would be a blessing."
Enter Jackson, a two-year-old black lab. Kelsi received Jackson at ADAI's Summer Graduation in 2014. Kelsi worked very hard during Team Training to bond with Jackson and to learn all of his commands, and her hard work definitely paid off. When asked what Jackson does for her, Kelsi responded, "Jackson helps me to be more independent. I don't have to depend on other people as much. He is my friend and helps me gain confidence." Kelsi was not the only one who was excited to bring Jackson home. She had an abundance of friends in Martin's Ferry anxiously awaiting Jackson's arrival so they could all meet her new service dog. Donna says that "Kelsi is involved with everything she possibly can be. She is not your average thirteen-year-old; she has the compassion, understanding, and determination to stay ahead and keep working. She has a disability, but she does not let it hold her back."
Every day when Kelsi goes to school, Jackson goes to his place in her bedroom, sitting and waiting for her to come back. When it is about time for Kelsi to arrive home, Jackson waits patiently by the front door until she makes it inside. Jackson will be allowed to attend school with Kelsi after six months once it has been ensured that their bond is strong. Luckily, Kelsi and Jackson already have an unbreakable bond that is visible to everyone. Jackson is trained to help Kelsi retrieve her cell phone, get help in case of an emergency, and open the refrigerator door. Kelsi noted, "It is like me not having a wheelchair. People will not be looking down at me; they will be looking at my dog!"
Kelsi & Jackson's story can be found here on the website of Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence.
Jackson began his training with Wildcat Service Dogs in the Fall of 2012 at 8 weeks old, with student puppy raiser Rachel Martell. He graduated from WSD in the Fall of 2013 and moved on to advanced training at ADAI. In the Summer of 2014, he was placed with his "forever person," Kelsi, as a mobility assistance dog.
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"Being a trainer will change your life. You learn patience, problem-solving and persistence.There are no words to describe how much someone grows through a partnership with a service dog in training."
-Hannah White, Training Supervisor (2013).
"WSD is an amazing organization. As an active member for four years, I learned that helping others not only gives back to society as a whole, but it also brings someone personal and lifelong joy."
-Jennifer Lyons, Puppy Raiser (2013) & Training Supervisor (2014).
"Getting to grow close to each dog through sitting has been life changing. These dogs truly leave paw prints on your heart and I feel so blessed to watch them grow."
-Brianna Vollman, WSD Sitter (2017).
"The puppies I raised will have a place in my heart forever, but most of all, I am so grateful to have been given the chance to help them grow into dogs who can make someone's life better in a way that I can never fully understand. It was such an incredible experience to be able to give something so special to someone else."
-Molly Mathistad, Puppy Raiser (2017), Training Supervisor (2017), & President (2018).
"Having a little puppy taught a big responsibility of time management and just being responsible in general. I'm so thankful he was brought into my life and still changes lives today."
-Haley Barter, Puppy Raiser & Secretary (2016).
"I get so excited for every dog in the program because every dog has so much potential and I love seeing them fulfill that purpose. I will forever be grateful to this program for showing me and letting me fulfill a passion for helping dogs, help people!"
-Caitlin Hudson, WSD Sitter & Photography Chair (2017).