Nancy & Arty

By Nancy Lerner

I have Parkinson’s disease. It seems I have had it forever. My son was 2 and I was 30 when I came down with it. That was when I was 30, 26 years ago.

I can also remember dogs being special to me. Even as a child, Zipper was an important part of my life. I was the youngest child with two much older siblings so Zipper was the one I told my troubles to.

We live in the country and have always had a dog or two trotting beside us up the hill to the prairie or down in the woods. We have 6.5 acres to roam around on.

As I become less able to do things I want to do, I thought, “Why not have a dog help me with those things?” Like getting up out of a chair when I am stiff, getting my meds from a drawer in the kitchen when it is difficult for me to walk? Or fetching things for me, like getting the phone, or my cane? It would be such a comfort to me to have somebody around me – someone to talk to who doesn’t get bored with my complaints and also wants to be with me almost all the time.

I waited almost 3 years for a WAGS dog and Arty came to us on April 2006. After 2 weeks of training, I was allowed to keep Arty overnight. I was shown how to make a first aid kit, especially for dogs, as well as taught the signs and symptoms of illness, and general dog care. They also taught me how to work with a specially trained dog so he won’t forget the 40 or so commands he does understand. I learned about necessity of using positive reinforcement to get a dog to want to please you. They showed me some insight into dog behavior and emotions. This information is invaluable to me. I wish I had known this before. I would have been a better dog owner.

Arty has changed my life, with his 2 year old zest for life, I am now greeted at the door by a dog whose whole body is waggling as he has a toy in his mouth. He is honestly SO happy to see me. I know Arty and I are going to be good friends for a long, long time.

I would recommend that anyone who has physical needs or is homebound to consider a dog as a companion, it’s worth it!