Life changed for Chelsey in 2010 when she contracted a bacterial infection after tubing on the Comal River, which led to a bilateral below-knee amputation.
“When I got home, I got really sick from a bacterial infection that went septic,” recalls Chelsey. “I lost blood flow in my limbs. My hands came back without significant damage, but my feet weren’t so lucky. Along with my amputations, I suffer from an anoxic brain injury that affects my stamina and coordination.”
Chelsey utilizes prosthetics and a wheelchair, making daily tasks more challenging. For Chelsey, a service dog meant help with these daily tasks, but it also meant more than that. It meant gaining the confidence to go back to school, graduate and become a working professional.
Chelsey began school at Texas Tech University before she applied for a Canine Companions for Independence assistance dog. However, Chelsey decided to leave school before receiving her degree.
But once she was matched with Service Dog Pablo, she felt like she had exactly what she needed to finish her degree. “He was my motivation to go back and finish,” says Chelsey. “Pablo gave me the confidence and independence that I needed.”
Chelsey and Pablo graduated from Canine Companions at the grand opening of the South Central Region Kinkeade Campus in November 2015. Since then, she returned to college at Texas Tech, graduated with a degree in finance, and landed a job at a large bank.
Pablo was not left out of these celebrations. He was in Chelsey’s senior pictures and even walked at graduation with her in his very own cap and gown. Today, he attends work with her, making asking for help a thing of the past.
Life with a service dog
“Pablo helps me with literally everything,” explains Chelsey. “He picks up anything I may drop, helps me straighten my bed and brings in my groceries on a rolling cart. Now I am able to go grocery shopping independently.”
And it doesn’t end there.
“In the morning, he will bring my prosthetics so I can put them on and if something drops under the car as I stand up, which happens a lot, he can fish it out.”
Chelsey says she would not be where she is today if it wasn’t for Pablo. More than anything, he has provided her with consistency and confidence.
“Someone is always there to help me or just be there for me,” said Chelsey. “I don’t have to rely on people anymore.”