The service dog who changed my life forever.
Hi Everyone! My name is Chelsea Gerow. I'm 27 years old. I was born with Cerebral Palsy that affects all four of my limbs. I use a power wheelchair to get around. In 2012, I graduated with a degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Marketing.
About three months after I graduated from college I received a letter from Canine Companions for Independence letting me know that I had been accepted into their program. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to receive one of their nationally-recognized assistance dogs.
Harkin, who's a service dog, and I have been together since February of 2013. She knows more than 30 commands. Some of them are: sit, down, off, get the leash, push, tug, dress and get. Harkin is able to turn light switches on and off with her paws and nose. She also can retrieve items off department store and grocery store shelves. Harkin comes with me to work every day. Most of the time she sleeps under a table but if I need something, she is more than happy to retrieve an item. She enjoys working. She prefers it that way. If I don’t keep her mind and body occupied she then becomes non-responsive. This is one of the main things I want to educate people on. In my experience, the public thinks that service dogs are mistreated and are not allowed to have fun and play around like other dogs. In Harkin’s case whenever she’s in the privacy of my own home she is considered “off” duty. She is still able to perform tasks but in a more laid-back setting.
In her free time Harkin enjoys going for walks, playing frisbee and tug. Every once in a while she enjoys a dog biscuit. (Shhh! Don't tell.) The application process with Canine Companions for Independence is two years. The wait was long and arduous at times, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Harkin was well worth the wait. For more information on Canine Companions for Independence visit, cci.org or Harkin’s Heroes on Facebook.