Meet Paula and Joella
I am Paula, EDS Hypermobility Type. I currently use a powerchair to help with pain, subluxes, SI joint dysfunction, and all the other usual stuff. I live in rural North Carolina. Last November I started to seriously think about getting a Service Dog. I thought I had one picked out but he died of a puppy disease.
I had already contacted a dog trainer friend about helping me with Zeke. She called me about a month after he died and asked if I was still interested in a service dog. She had a dog that loved to retrieve so we went over to meet it. I did not like her at first. She was just under 7 months, scrawny, and a full breed. I am a mutt fan. But I slowly fell in love before we left and the next day I brought her home. I named her Joella, Hebrew for “God is Willing”. She is an adorable, sensitive, sweetheart of a clown.
She is also a Rottweiler which has caused some trouble with various folks around me. But most who meet her are surprised by her quiet demeanor. Ha! That’s just how she is now – come home with me and see the REAL Joella!
Currently, I need a service dog to pick dropped items up for me. If I lean over to get something, I often start a spasm in my neck/shoulder areas. If I happen to be standing, I can reach the floor but my knees are now starting to buckle unexpectedly. So the first thing we taught Joella, after the usual obedience stuff, was to pick up my keys. Then we advanced to hats, bookbags, magazines, etc. If she sees or hears me drop something, she will automatically pick it up. I am now using a laser pointer to get her to pick up something specific. Sure, I could have gotten a reacher but a dog is much more fun! A reacher won’t bring you a soggy fuzzy tennis ball when you are feeling depressed. A reacher won’t get scared to death when the person dressed as the Easter Bunny waves at you in the mall!
Originally published in EDSToday newsletter issue #4.
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