U.S. Army veteran Chrissy first found out about Canine Companions for Independence at age 10 when her aunt was partnered with a Canine Companions assistance dog to help with multiple sclerosis. When Chrissy experienced a debilitating back injury while serving in the military, she knew she would turn to Canine Companions for her own assistance dog. But first she wanted to tackle the challenge of relearning how to walk.
Aquatic therapy helped Chrissy gain her function back, and the hours spent in the pool, along with other patients, led Chrissy to realize she wanted to be an occupational therapist. In 2016, Chrissy was matched with Canine Companions Service Dog Thel. “Getting down and getting back up is very difficult and slow,” says Chrissy. “It’s wonderful to have a dog who can retrieve items off the ground and deliver them to me, both at home and on the job.”
Chrissy is the rehabilitation manager at a skilled nursing facility, and Thel not only helps Chrissy with physical tasks, she also motivates patients during occupational therapy sessions with Chrissy. Thel helps Chrissy be more independent and enables her to do her job more easily. “Thel’s assistance has opened so many doors for me, but she’s also a help to countless others.”