CAROL ANN & BARLEY
I am now enjoying the freedom that comes from having my THIRD service dog from PADS. I guess you could say I am a satisfied customer! It’s not difficult, however, to think back on the first time I heard of PADS or was paired with my first boy, Barley. I had polio as an infant and walked only with the aid of braces and crutches. As I got older, got married, had two children, and continued my full-time job, I found that I was using my wheelchair for more than trips to the mall or longer distances. Life seemed easier from the wheelchair than having to manage the braces and crutches and the aching joints that were becoming a reality.
Enter Barley – a beautiful, yellow lab. I completed the application for a service dog after my husband discovered PADS online. My love for dogs began at an early age and the fact that I could have a dog that would could assist me seemed like a perfect match. In 2002, Ron called to say that he had found a possible match for me and could he bring him to meet me. He wanted to see if I would like him. WHAT?? Even if he had no tail and only one eye I would LOVE him! He didn’t, but I did! Love him that is!
Barley was an amazing puller. It was 13 blocks (one way) from my home to my office on the University of Alberta campus and Barley would get me there in 10 minutes. One the way home, it was uphill for the last block or two but he was undaunted. He knew, at the end of that pull, there was a park and he was always ready for a game of ball. He would chase it for 10 minutes, or until my arm got tired, and then it was one last pull up the hill to our condo and a well-earned rest.
Flying like the wind (we actually had him clocked at 40 km/hr for a short spurt), with a dog pulling my wheelchair was the ultimate thrill for someone who could never ride a bike or run myself.
Barley gave me freedom. To go for a walk by myself, to go shopping, to travel, to continue working when part of my job was going from building to building across campus. I was never alone because I had Barley with me. No longer did people stare at me because I was in a wheelchair. They stared at Barley and his amazing ability to pull. No longer the lady in the wheelchair going slow, I was the lady with the dog everyone loved and he brought a smile to their faces.
PADS provided this amazing helper, and the next one (Basil), and the current one (Bronx) each with their own special skills and personalities. The volunteers (from the whelping families to the puppy raisers) and the advanced trainers do all they can and more to make sure that these special dogs are cared for and trained so that we (the clients) can have the freedom to live our lives with a companion that can provide us with essential services (pulling, retrieving, opening doors and carrying our things).
So many volunteers give of their time, money and energy to this organization. From one satisfied customer, I would like to say “Thank You”.