Service dog changes patient’s way of living

Service dog changes patient’s way of living

After complications from a brain surgery left her right side paralyzed at age 7, Hailey, a Dana-Farber Cancer Institute patient, needed support from her family to stay mobile. As she aged, the dependency on her family, specifically her mother, was wearing on her mental health as she tried to grow more independent—that’s when Honor came in. In 2019, Hailey met her Golden Retriever, Honor, when she was 21 and he changed her life. Today, Hailey is 24 and the two are thriving together.

“I’ve been disabled since I was 7. For a while, I relied on my mother for support in getting around because I have poor depth perception. But being dependent on my mother can feel very demeaning for somebody my age. A friend of my family’s suggested looking into service dogs, which led our family to Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) where I met my puppy, Honor,” Hailey says.

“Now that I have Honor to hold onto, I have so much more freedom in my life. I can rely on him now instead of my mother to keep me upright and to go up and down stairs. I can go almost anywhere by myself without the fear of falling or getting stuck. A bonus is that I’m never alone and always have a companion with me.”

“I’m so grateful for Honor. Before Honor came into my life, I struggled a lot with being handicapped and challenged with movement, but I really believe that he loves his work,” she says. “Whenever we’re sitting together, he always licks my paralyzed hand and I truly believe he is trying to heal me in his own way. He not only cares about me and my wellbeing, but the wellbeing and health of my whole family. I am so grateful to have him and to have him in my family.”

March 23 is National Puppy Day. Thank you to all service animals like Honor who are helping patients to find their independence, mobility, and strength.

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