Alex first came to CPL after taking part in a demonstration presented to her support group for people with Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT). CMT affects peripheral nerves outside the brain and spinal cord which causes weakness and numbness, usually starting in the feet. This often inhibits a person’s ability to walk. That was the case for Alex. She immediately applied for a service dog after learning what a dog could do to increase her independence. In 2008, Alex was placed with her first CPL service dog, DeeDee. She says, “I have come to rely on a service dog to help me get through my day as independently as possible; however, having a service dog such as DeeDee has helped me in so many other ways that go way beyond the physical. Having a service dog has helped me to open my horizons, and not set limits on where I can go, what I can do, and the goals I can accomplish…has helped me to open up and become more outgoing, which is why I am able to talk to more people, join more activities, and take on a more active role in CPL.”
With DeeDee’s support, Alex graduated from high school, got her first job, and graduated from Wilmington University with a B.S. in Legal Studies. DeeDee helped prolong Alex’s ability to walk and assisted her with tasks that she used to rely on others to do. After six years of service, Alex made the difficult decision to retire DeeDee in 2014 due to her age and declining health. Without question, Alex decided to return to CPL for a successor dog. This summer, Alex graduated our three-week-long Team Training program with Shandy. With her new canine partner by her side, Alex has spoken at many CPL events, often volunteers to provide service dog demonstrations in the community, and assists her family with puppy raising for CPL’s program. Alex joined CPL’s Board of Directors in 2014 and has just completed her third semester in law school at Widener University. Alex’s story confirms CPL service dogs can provide people with disabilities the confidence to achieve their goals and dreams.