Tuesday, February 15, 2011

With a little help from a new friend

The other day I got a call from my friends at Paws With A Cause. It was the call we had been hoping for. After nearly three years of applications, interviews, fund raising and waiting, they had a dog for me.

Not any dog, but a service dog that, once trained, will help me live a better life.

For years, Toni and I had talked about getting a dog that could assist me as well as provide Toni some peace of mind when I am alone in the house. But when I started researching service dogs in 2007, I was dismayed to find that most of the organizations that provide dogs require the recipients to travel to the facilities for weeks of training.

I say most because Paws With a Cause was different.

Unlike the other organizations I found, Paws does the preliminary dog training at its Michigan facility without you. Once they feel the dog is ready, they bring it to you, and a trainer continues working with you and the dog in your house over the next three months.

Not only will the dog provide great companionship, it will do a host of simple tasks I no longer can do – including call for help in case of an emergency.

The process has been long and thorough to get to this point. It’s no wonder they are the nation’s leading provider of service dogs. And it’s no wonder each dog costs about $20,000 to raise and train. All costs are paid through donations so recipients aren’t asked for a dime. If you’re interested in making a donation, you can go to the organization’s website at www.pausewithacause.org or send a check to Paws With A Cause, 4646 South Division, Wayland MI 49348.

In about a week, I am expecting another call from the people at Paws telling me whether the dog they are working with is a good fit for me. If the dog clears that hurdle they will provide details about my new companion – its breed, name and picture.

And if all goes well, the dog will be moving in sometime in May. I’ll keep you posted.