Hello campbellsworld visitors.
Today, I’d like to bring to your attention a problem that most are probably not aware of, and that is, the need for ‘service dogs’ which are trained to do multiple tasks.
My friend Angela is disabled in a way that causes her to need such a dog.
Now, you’re probably thinking…
“OK. There’s a school for that, and it’s a nonprofit, so, like ‘Guide Dogs’ that’s free, right?”
Here’s Angela to tell us more…
First, tell us a little about you, who you are, where you live, and anything else you’d like to share about your life.
Hello to all.
My name is Angela Latessa and I’m 37-years-old. I’m from Cleveland Ohio. I live with my roommate. I have 5 cats who are all rescues and a retired Seeing Eye dog.
What is your disability, and what caused it?
I have 2 brain injuries which resulted in my sight loss and epilepsy.
I was born 3 months early at only 2 lbs. I had birth trauma from umbilical cord strangulation and had to be resuscitated twice. Throughout most of my life I had low vision.
i didn’t find out about the epilepsy until I was a freshman in high school when a school nurse saw me in the hallway having a seizure and told my parents.
The seizures became so bad by the time I was in my 20s I had 1-4 a day, for 5-7 days a week. So, they quickly added up. I finally decided enough was enough and wanted to go through brain surgery, so I didn’t have to have them anymore.
In 2013, I had almost the entire right hemisphere of my brain removed and haven’t had a seizure since. But the surgery was complicated by bacterial meningitis and that caused me to have more problems.
I understand that you’re raising funds to acquire a Service Dog which will be able to perform multiple tasks. Tell us about the place from where this dog will come, and what it will be trained to do for you?
I have had 3 dogs from The Seeing Eye in the past, so I thought getting another dog would be a piece of cake. However, things didn’t turn out as I thought they would.
I tried several different guide dog and a few Service Dog schools and had lots of problems due to my brain injury. Either some places would train for brain injured Veterans but not the average citizen, or they didn’t know how to train for guide work. I couldn’t find anywhere that would train for both brain injury and blindness.
It was my roommate Stephen who found Sit Service Dogs for me. He kept saying, “There must be a place that bridges the gap between blindness and brain injury.”
We talked with them, and they said they could help us since they like complex cases which is exactly what I have.
They said we had to fund half of the cost of training. They pay for the other half. In total, the cost of the training of the dog is $30,000. They said we could either save or fund raise. So i chose the fundraising route.
Sit Service Dogs is located in Ava Illinois and they train dogs for people who have neurological and physical disabilities.
My dog will be trained in specific tasks relating to my brain injury and blindness. These tasks are, neurofeedback loop for ongoing seizure detection, changes in terrain as part of guide work. This is for things like curbs, steps, and low obstructions. They don’t train for overhanging obstacles, but I believe I have enough knowledge to train that part of the dogs learning myself after working as many years as I have with guide dogs. The dog will also protect me from traffic and will help me cross the street safely. Routine regulation, brace work, deep pressure therapy, and alerting another adult in the event of a medical crisis such as seizure or a fall.
If you’re able to obtain such a dog, how will it enhance your life?
I will be able to travel safely again. I had used my limited sight for so long and had remembered most of my routes with no problem. Now that I have problems with memory, cognitive mapping issues, no usable sight, vertigo, and going out with too much noise at one time, this dog will help me to feel independent again since I know I won’t fall, and I can get help in case of an emergency, and I can do as little or as much as I want and I don’t have to meet anyone’s expectations but my own.
How much funding have you raised, and how much do you still need to raise?
So far, we have raised $9,500, so we’ve a way to go. After we pay our portion, the remainder of the cost will be covered by a generous grant from The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation in Colorado.
Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your situation that I’ve not asked about?
Just that anything is possible. This was so overwhelming in the beginning since I didn’t know if I could raise the needed funds, but with help from my friends, family and others who didn’t know me, this dream has begun turning into a reality for me when I didn’t know if I would ever work with a dog again. So, I just wanted to tell others not to give up on their dreams.
Angela, I agree with you. ‘Anything is possible.’
This is so exciting!
Thank you for sharing your situation with us.
Please do write often to keep us updated on your progress.
The best way to know what’s happening is to follow the Fundraiser over on Facebook. Here’s that link: https://www.facebook.com/donate/2745774432329561/
And to visit the main site for SIT Service Dogs see: https://www.sitservicedogs.com/
Thanks to everyone in advance for reading and contributing.