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|My sister-in-law, Melissa, Deirdre and I.|
|In 2008, our son Rob was in a car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for five weeks and in various hospitals for months. When we brought him home there was so much to learn, transferring him from his wheelchair to his bed, hooking him up to his feeding tube, medication and therapies, how to get him to different appointments. We were overwhelmed. So, when a friend suggested applying for a companion dog from CCI, I couldnít imagine how a dog would be anything but more work.|
Still, I applied and waited. While we waited, Rob improved. He no longer needed a feeding tube and cut down on his medications. We got a wheelchair van and even getting out seemed a bit easier. Despite everyoneís determination, there were things we couldnít do.
We couldn't motivate Rob to talk more loudly and clearly. We couldnít open his right hand for him. We couldn't help Rob sleep through the night.
But Deirdre could. Deirdre is Robís assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence.
During Team Training when Deirdre stayed in the dorm room with us overnight, she slept in Robís bed with him. It was the first night in three years that Rob slept through the night. I began to understand how much a companion dog could help.
Because Rob wanted Deirdre to respond when he called her, his speech improved.
Because Rob wanted to play fetch with Deirdre, he learned to open his hand. At first, Deirdre helped by placing one paw on Rob's forearm to steady it. Then, she used her other paw to gently extend his fingers and drop the ball into Robís hand. After just one week, Rob could open his hand independentlyóbecause of Deirdre.
Because Deirdre sleeps with him, heís able to sleep uninterrupted. Rob explains, ďShe stays by me when Iím scared, confused, or alone. Really Iím not alone, because Iím with her.Ē With Deirdre, Robís sleep apnea has even improved.
Deirdre is so attuned to Rob that she anticipates his needs, like lying on his feet when he canít keep them still. Her companionship has brought Rob immeasurable joy and comfort. She motivates Rob to keep working even though itís tough.
We are participating in DogFest to show our appreciation to CCI for Deirdre and to raise funds for other people who need a "Deirdre" in their lives.