How a Service Dog Gave Me Freedom


I have sat here for the last 10 minutes trying to figure out the best way to start this post. And I think I have found it; dogs.

Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking when He created animals but more specifically, dogs. They’re cute, fluffy, lovable, and most importantly they are smart! Back in 2014, I uploaded a post introducing the newest member of our family, a mini goldendoodle. I was SO excited, I don’t think I’ve ever used so many exclamation point’s in one post! We named her after van Gogh because her left ear flap was missing. For short we would call her Vanni and she was perfect! But little did I know how much impact this pup would have on my life. Because of her, I am able to live a more independent life. My parents trained Vanni to do many things but my favorite trick is when she helps me pick up fallen objects .

When I draw, journal, or do my make up I am prone to drop things. I mean, it tends to be an issue when your hands don’t work. #HandProbs. If I were to guess how many times I drop an object per day, I would say it’s at least five times. That’s a HUGE problem when you’re not able to pick it up yourself. So this meant someone would have to go out of their way to help me, I couldn’t be left alone, and depending on where I dropped the item I might not be able to drive my wheelchair around it, thus trapping myself. This dependency made me feel like a nuisance. The burden of that feeling grew every time I dropped an item. I hated it so much so, I stopped drawing.

The solution for this dependency was none other than a dog. Heck yeah. The best solution for anything.

After some time, we trained Little Miss Vanni to pick up any object I dropped and place it in a basket that I am able to pull up. This meant any drawing pencil, make up brush, hair brush, stylus, or remote could fall on the ground! Vanni gave me freedom. She gave me independence. Now every time I drop my pencil, she is so eager to help me. She could be asleep in the living room but if she hears that pencil drop in my bedroom, she is ON it! She doesn’t even need to be called. It’s like she’s waiting for it. If she misses the basket on the first time, she’ll pick it back up until it’s in the basket. She is relentless and we love it.

Watch this cute video of Vanni in action

Here are the pictures of how I use the basket. My hand is able to wrap around the handle. I also have a lanyard attached to the basket. I will wrap the lanyard around my arm rest in case I drop the basket! If the basket is dropped I can lift it up with the lanyard.

If you’re in a wheelchair and find struggles in your independence, maybe a dog could help. They’re able to open doors, pull your wheelchair, or pick up fallen items. Not only do you gain freedom but a friend as well.

We bought Vanni through a local breeder and trained her through a local Service dog trainer but there are non-profit organizations that donate service animals to families. For example, Canine Companions for Independence. They have amazing testimonies of lives changed because of a canine companion. I don’t know where I would be without my dog or how dependent my life would be without her. She has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

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