Jim and DustyJim came to Assistance Dogs in March, 2006 to get his first service dog. When Jim was introduced to Dusty, it was love at first sight but his wife of over 40 years, Laurie leaned over to him and said “boy is he big.” Big he is, but Dusty fits right into their lives perfectly.
Jim is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis that has affected the left side of his body and his ability to walk. He is confined to a wheelchair. Jim first decided to pursue getting a service dog after seeing a lady in a power wheelchair come out of a store with a service dog. After learning how her dog helped with her needs, he could see how a dog could help him become more independent.
Dusty is a beautiful yellow lab who not only assists Jim, he lessens the burden on Jim’s wife. Before Dusty, Laurie had to assist him every time he went to the restroom because he wasn’t able to get close enough to the toilet. The legs of his wheelchair got in the way. But, not any more. Dusty comes in and takes the feet off of the wheelchair. Jim says Dusty loves to be helpful and that he is constantly by his side. “If I move two inches, he moves to be by me.”
Jim swims often at a public pool. Even though Dusty would probably love taking a swim himself, he lies down next to the wheelchair and doesn’t move until he is told he can get up. That’s just Dusty: always doing what he’s told. One time, though, Dusty decided to disobey. A little girl in a wheelchair asked if she could pet the dog. Jim said yes but she couldn’t reach down far enough to pet him. Dusty stood up and put his head in the little girl’s lap for a few pets then went back to his place on the floor next to Jim’s wheelchair. And, he did it all without any direction.
Dusty loves to retrieve items for Jim and is trained to get the newspaper at the end of their very long driveway. One day the newspaper boy left the paper on the other side of the yard and there was a stack of recycled papers at the end of the driveway waiting to be picked up. Jim and his wife Laurie were convinced that Dusty would finally be tricked and get one of the old recycled papers. But, on his way down to pick up the newspaper Dusty stopped, looked around then ran to the correct paper. Jim and Laurie were amazed and Dusty was rewarded with extra treats and hugs that day!
“I never knew there were so many nice people in the world until I got Dusty,” says Jim. Dusty is so well behaved in public that people are just drawn to him. People that would probably never approach Jim, stop just to talk about Dusty. They just love him. Jim and Laurie joke that if they were to die; they hope they come back as a dog just like Dusty!