Growing Up With Canine Companions

woman in a wheelchair hugging a yellow lab in blue service vest who is laying across her lap

Hilary Pircher has had three Canine Companions service dogs by her side over the years and credits each of them with a unique purpose in her life.

Growing up with cerebral palsy, Hilary often had to rely on her parents. But like any teenager, she longed for autonomy and greater independence. She found that and more with her first service dog, Hudson. 

“Hudson was a huge source of security for me for 10 years,” she shares. Matched at age 16, he allowed Hilary to live independently in four different cities, go to college and begin a professional career, all things that she and her parents had dreamed about. 

She was then matched with Service Dog Geiler, who Hilary credits as the “fun and silly” one. Geiler pushed Hilary to be more active and outgoing, allowing her to connect with the world around her in a new way.

Now, her most affectionate service dog, Data, is by her side each day, working and living in Houston, Texas, assisting with life-changing daily tasks. 

Service Dog Data carries items in his mouth so Hilary can propel her wheelchair, tugs open doors and retrieves any item that is dropped or out of reach, all with a wagging tail. 

“My service dogs have helped me realize who I am as a person. Hudson made me brave. Geiler made me fun. And Data made me affectionate,” says Hilary. “They allowed me to chase my dreams.”

Learn more about applying for a service dog at