People ask me every day what motivated me to work with people suffering from emotional issues.
My story is something you can’t make up. For 15 years I had the job of my dreams: I had a thriving business working with owners and their dogs throughout the Los Angeles – Hollywood area as a dog trainer/behaviorist. I helped “everyday families” as well celebrities with their problem pooches. Life was good, my future looked bright.
In 2010 my life took an awful, unimaginable turn. I went to my doctor with an unbearable pain in my back and neck. Nothing was found, and I was prescribed pain killers. They didn’t stop the pain. So, I went again. Same result; nothing but stronger pain medication.
The third time I went doctors finally discovered a rare staph infection, eating the C5 & C6 disks in my neck, and beginning to destroy a section of my spinal cord, which in turn, paralyzed me from the shoulders down. I was now a quadriplegic. For the first time in my life I had lost control
During surgery, my doctors scraped out the infection, fused what was left of the eaten disks in my neck together and put me in a “Halo” for four long, confusing and agonizing months. The only things I could move was my head and the top part of my left pinky finger. I was told I would never walk again. I was broken. After going through eleven months of rehab, I was still wheelchair bound with minimal movement, deeply depressed, and with very little hope. “Life” as I knew it ceased to exist.
Being a Certified Dog Trainer/Behaviorist, I knew the healing power of dogs, and how to turn my rescue dog, “Debo”, into a Service Dog. I began working with him, and he with me, and over the weeks I slowly began to improve. Debo began slowly by leading me about the house and eventually we could be seen staggering through the the parking lot, one small step at a time, with Debo leading the way.
My dog became both my teacher and healer. Within months I had progressed to using a walker, then to mastering two walking canes, until one day, after months of forcing myself to move I was able to walk and move, unaided, on my own, with my Service Dog by my side. Whenever I was afraid, my dog was right there to bring me back the confidence and strength I desperately needed. My dog did for me what no human could; he gave me unconditional love, support and confidence in myself.
I never imagined that the act of saving this dog, my Service/Therapy Dog, would one day save me. My Doctor’s still say, “You’re a walking miracle, it’s impossible your walking“, and I would know that my, Service Dog, Debo, was the TRUE MIRACLE and “impossible” was just a word for me to try another way!
I had survived my own private Hell. My experience became my own PTSD and I realized that God had bigger plans for my talent and my choice was obvious: do everything I could to save the lives of unwanted animals and enrich the lives of our veterans with PTSD, special needs children and the elderly. I’ve dedicated my life to to this program. I hope you’ll join me in my journey.
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