KENN & RIDDLE
“No worries of anyone ever separating us,” I tell them gently when asked what will happen to Riddle now that I can walk again. With much more confidence than I had leaving PADS the first day with Riddle by my side, I say, ” Riddle helped me drop 200lbs of body fat, and helped motivate me to get out of a wheelchair and walk. I have no worry about losing Riddle, we are more concerned about becoming famous!”
My name is Kenn Pond and in 2013 I was teamed with Riddle from the Harry Potter litter. Right from the start we were destined to be together. One little known fact is that the day I interviewed by Ron at PADS to learn about my suitability, Mr. Riddle already here was in the next building – wooing over everyone he encountered. Riddle was just 10 weeks old at the time, and I was 10 weeks away from learning I would have to have decompression brain surgery to relieve pressure on my neurosystem.
My placement call came in May 2013. Riddle and I met in June, and immediately formed a very special relationship, as most teams do. Since then, Riddle has gone far beyond the amazing talents, tasks, and skills taught by the PADS Advanced Training Team.
Riddle can think, and I’d argue he can even reason. Riddle reads how I feel, where I hurt, and when my neural pathways fail me. When the world starts to overwhelm me and my mind and body start to fatigue, Riddle is watching, ready to step forward and nudge me. That is special. That is Riddle.
Riddle has been instrumental in my rehabilitation. Originally, the goal was to strengthen my core, stabilize my upper body, and reduce fractures in my spine. Neuro-physiotherapy sucked for me. I loved my physiotherapist, she had things figured out, but it was the methods and methodology that got me. I could not do the mundane repetitive exercises, I needed to snap out of boredom. But Riddle is a thinker.
He decided more physio was in my best interest and playtime was in his. I learned to communicate with Riddle very easily and trust came naturally. If he wanted me to sit on the floor and play, I would. But play soon felt like a battle, a battle I was clearly losing. At the time, Riddle was committing ‘social disobedience’ as I would come to learn. You see, Riddle watched me struggle trying to do repetitive exercises at physio and, I suppose, he decided to replicate the motions at home with his toys.
PADS service dogs, like Riddle, are trained to bring and deposit items directly into our hands. Shortly after treatment started, Riddle started to drop the toy or object I would ask for just slightly out of my reach. I had to start engaging my core muscle to reach the object. Once in my hand and sitting straight again, Riddle would shower me with love! Like a ‘good boy’ to me for getting the toy.
At graduation in 2013, I weighed over 400lbs. That spiked a year later to about 450lbs. A trip to the ER had me convinced that I was out of luck and lives, so I talked to Riddle about helping me lose a few pounds. After getting out of the hospital I quickly dropped 20lbs. Before long, 40 pounds had evaporated.
With Riddle’s help, I dropped over 100 lbs within the year. Healthy snacks, like carrots and cucumbers, that I could share with Riddle became my choice over potato chips and chocolate bars. Walks around the house turned into daily walks around the yard. Walking around the yard and playing with Riddle turned into being able to do small garden projects. Now after 2 years of working and walking with Riddle, I’ve dropped 200lbs of body fat. I was “kicked out” of the Bariatric Surgery program. I’m proud to say, I am currently too small and under weight to warrant having the procedure.
After maintaining the weight drop for another year, Riddle and I have been asked to give talks on all our achievements. No one at PADS ever told me that there was anything Riddle could not do, so when it’s time to learn something new we don’t hesitate to try. At this point, I think we can do just about anything.