A Lover not a Hunter

Now I'm not so much a cat person that I don't know dogs. My mother used to joke, with serious undertones, that I was raised by a prim and proper German Shepherd nanny who washed out of the police program at two years old because of suspected hip dysplasia.

My dad was intensely into hunting Labradors after my parents divorced when I was five. I was told never to love on those working dogs but I did, and they would do the most amazing retrieves for me when I went out to train & exercise them. I learned at a young age that positive training gets results backed with heart.

I'd worked at a veterinarian clinic all through high school, learning vet tech skills, and I'd assist Nadine on her house calls when she needed me, and after my injury, when I could.

So the campaign began. Gladys was Dad's last hunter and they weren't hunting much anymore. Besides, Gladys had no competitive spirit; if there was another dog to retrieve, she'd rather stay in the blind and do her nails than get wet. Mom later commented fondly, "That dawg don't hunt."

And she wasn't born to hunt. Gladys was born to be an assistance dog. My friends and family bombarded my dad with calls to send Gladys to Colorado to help me. Dad was concerned I was unable to care for a dog. He was concerned Gladys wasn't ambitious enough. And then we won.

Big beautiful Gladys the overweight black Labrador arrived via the Doggie Underground Railroad, passing through three airports and four Friends before arriving in Vail. Of course we were a perfect match, something I wouldn't understand was so lucky until later. After six weeks she was completely cross trained.

Gladys saved me - physically, emotionally, mentally. Gladys inspired me and ultimately put me on new path. I know not every one can train dogs, but I can. There is an under served market out there, people like me who don't qualify for traditional assistance dog programs. So my research continued.

Gladys and I lost 30 pounds together. I kept on losing weight. I kept on walking. I'm in a chair 15% of the time now, and I can walk for 45 minutes, with my service dog.

Oh, and it's a Quickie wheelchair.