Maggie — Service
Many people will say that their dog helps them when they fall… but most only mean it in the figurative sense. I was 15 years old when I first started fainting upon standing up. I was diagnosed with a nervous system disorder called Orthostatic Hypotension, and later Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare connective tissue disorder that causes persistent joint pain. I was in major need of a hand, but I soon learned that what I really needed was a paw.
Enter Maggie, a lovable, sassy black labrador that is eager to please. Maggie was trained by the non-profit Can Do Canines to be a mobility service dog, as well as being taught to lick my face when I faint and fall to the ground and brace her body so that I can aid myself up off of the ground after a fall.
Since I use mobility aids at the young age of 20, I was often stared at or bombarded with highly invasive personal questions about my medical history. Maggie is my hero because she helped open up a positive conversation about disability. Instead of being stared at, people now marvel at her enthusiasm to open doors for me. Instead of being asked “what’s wrong with you?”, parents open up a dialogue on the importance of service dogs with their children. With her by my side, I feel like I can tackle any challenges that come my way. And even if they knock me down, I know that I’ll be greeted with Maggie’s tongue licking my face, ready to help me back up again.