Mary Ashlyn Theide – Southeast Region
Mary Ashlyn Theide works with patients who are rehabilitating from brain and spinal cord injuries at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Before applying for a dog, Mary Ashlyn was quite familiar with Canine Companions facility dogs because the Shepherd Center already had three of our expertly trained facility dogs working with patients in a variety of ways. In 2014, she spearheaded efforts to get a facility dog in Pathways, the outpatient center where she worked at the time, and she was matched with Facility Dog Barboza in October of that year.
Many of the patients Mary Ashlyn works with have experienced strokes or traumatic brain injuries. Barboza helps patients in various ways, such as responding to commands that they provide as well as standing on his hind legs to dance and exercise with clients to build muscle strength for recovery.
She says that Barboza is there for a purpose and has an amazing gift – the ability to brighten the spirits of patients, while helping facilitate their critical, demanding and, often difficult, therapy sessions.
“I know first-hand the difference a Canine Companions dog can make in someone’s life, and I wanted to help share that message. And that is why I decided to give back,” says Mary Ashlyn.
Mary Ashlyn is an active ambassador of the Canine Companions mission and has served as an officer of the Greater Atlanta Volunteer Chapter. She was instrumental in the success of the chapter, mentoring new members and helping coordinate events, chapter meetings and graduate and puppy raiser workshops.
Because she received Barboza free of charge, she also understands the importance of fundraising. She has been involved in the planning for all the Atlanta fundraising events, and she was the driving force to organize Chip in for Canines, the chapter’s very successful golf fundraiser.
Mary Ashlyn selflessly exemplifies what is at the heart and soul of Canine Companions, and the Southeast Region is very honored to recognize her with the regional volunteer award.