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woman with his service dog

Stories

Jody and Swoop, Summer 2020 Graduates

December 02, 2021

Jody with her service dogs

When Swoop came into Jody’s life, she immediately started to experience the independence, support and unconditional love from her new canine partner, but this wasn’t the first time her life was changed by a dog. Jody was matched with her first service dog from Canine Partners for Life (CPL) in 2000, and has since been partnered with three more CPL service dogs. For the last 20 years, Jody has experienced the enjoyment and happiness that a service dog can bring, so it was no question to apply for a fourth service dog when the time came.

At age 33, Jody’s life was instantly and dramatically changed after suffering a stroke. In a spilt second, Jody went from being a healthy adult, working full time, to being confined to a hospital bed unable to breath independently and reliant on a ventilator and the Intensive Care Unit machines. Jody spent two months in the hospital following her stroke, and was eventually weaned from the ventilator and transitioned to inpatient rehabilitation. Even after spending time in inpatient rehab, when she was discharged to return home, she was wheelchair dependent and had limited strength and coordination. She needed a personal care assistant to achieve the simplest activities of daily living.

To this day, Jody still has impairments in her strength, and difficulty with balance and coordination, which continue to impact her on a daily basis. Activities like carrying large or heavy items and picking objects up off the floor, require more effort and energy, which impacts the number of tasks Jody can complete in a day. Thankfully Jody no longer needs to use a wheelchair, but she does still require an assistive device to help with balance. Obstacles such as steps, curbs, and uneven surfaces, can stop Jody in her tracks because she needs assistance to maneuver them, which is where her service dog comes in.

When Jody first learned about CPL, she was amazed that a dog could help in so many ways, and had no doubt that a service dog could change her life. Jody was partnered with Swoop (her fourth service dog) in the Summer of 2020, and with Swoop’s support, she knows she can overcome any physical obstacle. Swoop wears a mobility harness to help Jody with her balance and support by assisting her on uneven surfaces, curbs, and stairs. He helps her to perform tasks such as retrieving heavy items, picking objects up off the floor, and tugging her laundry basket. With Swoop by her side, Jody has been able to relocate back home to Pennsylvania, after living in California for 12 years, return to work as a pediatric occupational therapist, volunteer out in the community, perform household chores, visit with friends and family, and travel.

These days, Jody enjoys working, swimming, arts and crafts, museums, concerts, and travelling to national monuments and parks. Jody has been able to experience all of these special moments because of a partnership with a service dog. She has walked on a beach in the Bahamas, walked down many stairs to a lighthouse, and explored different trails in Central California. Through COVID, Jody’s travels have been limited with Swoop, but she has no doubt that Swoop will enable her to explore in the future without limits.

Being partnered with Swoop has made a significant positive impact on Jody’s life. She shared, “It wasn’t until after I received my first service dog that I realized how much a service dog not only promotes your independence but also supports your emotional well-being and confidence. With Swoop by my side, I continue to feel like ‘I have my life back’.”