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ALS Worldwide
July 06, 2016

How a Service Dog Saved My Life

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Stuart Sherman was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. When his wife proposed the idea of a service dog, he brushed it off, doubting his ability to care for a dog when he could not even care for himself. Seeing a service dog in action during an afternoon shopping trip changed his mind and, in 2014, he applied for a dog of his own.

"Today, Swanson is my companion who looks to me for direction and who gets excited when she completes tasks. She infuses my heart with gratitude and her energy is contagious.

Aside from helping me maintain my balance, Swanson retrieves my walker, turns light switches on and off, opens and closes doors and picks up anything I drop - all of the activities that will become increasingly more and more difficult for me as the disease progresses.

And she’s with me 24/7. Swanson interprets the tone of my voice, reads my body language, and listens for my breathing patterns. She’s in tune with me and she puts my needs ahead of everything else. If Swanson could talk, she’d say, ‘I’m with you.’"

Stuart's service dog has helped him regain his sense of personhood in more ways than one:

"Before Swanson, I was self-conscious going places. Now, people see her before they see my disability. She also helps takes my focus off my disability. If we have to walk a long distance or trudge through the snow, I’m more worried about her than myself. My obligation to her gives me a sense of responsibility, which is something the ALS tries to strip away. Swanson takes care of me and I take care of her."

To read the full article from The Huffington Post, please click here.