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Review for Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Just little ol’ me, Oreo, the Service Dog
Hi, I am Kxxxx Pxxxxxx. I am a Veteran of the United States Air Force. In the middle of this picture is my service dog, Oreo. He is a 5 ½ year old Cockapoo. Oreo is a very special little dog. Not just because he is a service dog. It is how he became one that is the story. You see Oreo did not come from any special training school, or chosen from birth to serve others. No, Oreo decided to become a service dog all on his own.
In July, 2010, I was riding my bicycle to work that morning. I was struck by a SUV going the wrong way up the cross street. I never saw her coming. The impact tossed my body 15ft into the air, over the cable wires and landing on my face and hands. It left me with a shattered hip, pelvis, the left side of my face, eye socket shattered and both hands shattered. I went to the hospital; Oreo was taken to his former owner’s house. No one knew what condition I would be in if I lived. I was in the hospital for some time in ICU. Then when it was time for surgery I was transferred to a Nursing home to wait for my replacement hip surgery. In the nursing home you can see animals. So I asked if they could bring Oreo for me to see. Ohhh, what a reunion! Oreo yapped and danced all over the room. The excitement was a little too much for me so I went and lay down. Oreo jumped up on the bed. Starting with my right foot, he sniffed out every injury done to my body. He sniffed out every cut and every bruise. Then he softly climbed up on my chest and stared at me. The room fell silent. No one knew what he was going to do. He just stared at me with a concentrated and determined stare. Then he laid his head down under my chin and that was it. So I thought like everyone else, right? Wrong! It was only the beginning.
Another month later, I am sent home. Within a day I got a hospital bed, potty chair, nurses, aides, PT, OT, all going on in my home. My living room is now a hospital room and my dining room the PT/OT area and potty chair. For a good while Oreo was the only thing between me and whoever came in through that door. He was my only means of defense. While folks was coming and going, Oreo stayed somewhere where he could see but not be under foot or shoed away. For a week or two everything was done for me and I had helped almost every day if not every other day. But it came, the day I needed help and no one was there. In the wee hours of the morning, I had to go to the potty. My body was aching badly and everything was hard to do. So I lowered the head of the bed and began to pull the covers off. This is not ease with two broken hands. All of a sudden Oreo jumps up on the bed, sees what I am trying to do. He starts pulling the covers off the bed for me. So not quite paying attention to what just happened I start to move my right leg by lifting it with my left leg and moving to the edge of the bed. Oreo goes to the left side of my leg and starts pushing it to the edge of the bed. I am like…..OKAY?! Oreo jumps down and positions himself under my legs so my right leg will rest on his back when I swing over. I am thinking to myself, “is this for real?” He holds my leg and I get my balance to get up. He walked with me and my walker to the potty and back. Same thing happened getting into bed too. When all was down he laid down on my right side by the injury. His body heat was wonderful. Several weeks of this goes by with him including helping me to get dressed. I decided to call someone, anyone to help me understand what is happening to my dog.
I called The Association of Disabled Americans (ADA), they told me to call a dog trainer and see if he fits the standard of Service dogs. So I call FETCH. I told them what was happening, the sent someone out. She stayed for 3 hours. She watches Oreo on leash, off leash and in the home. We talked a long time. She told me that he believes he is working now to help you. This is why you cannot get him to leave your side for anyone. No one will be able to walk him while you are here. It is his duty to look after you now; it is his decision, not training. He is your Service Dog. I called ADA and told them what she said and they conferred on him Service dog status.
Now for him to have all the privileges of a Service Dog would not have happened if not for Mike Bodis and Veterans Leadership Program of W. Pa. They heard my story and the cost of the uniform for Oreo plus his certification. Mike took the information and in a matter of a few weeks of getting Oreo’s information it was done. Not only did Oreo get his uniform, he received his certification diploma. Now Oreo and I have many adventures together.
Now I must say that this is not every dog. There are standards that a dog must be able to perform in order to be qualified for this status. Even though Oreo can do the basics I do have him in training for more. I want him to do more than the basics and so does he. But for now He is just my little ol’ Service Dog Oreo.

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Role:  Client Served