Like any other high school student, Jolly has his photo in the school yearbook and wears a school ID. He goes to dances and sports events. He’s figured out the easiest ways to navigate crowded hallways (leave class a minute or two early), and his favorite period of the day is lunch.
Jolly, a 5-year-old Labrador Retriever, has been Jordan’s canine partner for the past 2.5 years. Jordan has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. As his symptoms progress, Jordan relies more and more on Jolly for support, such as help pulling off his clothes and adjusting the arms to his wheelchair.
“Jolly is pretty tidy,” explains Jordan. “He picks up after me, puts my clothes in the hamper and retrieves things I’ve dropped. He’s pretty handy!”
Jordan’s mother, Regina, laughs. “It’s really fun to watch Jolly and Jordan work together. Jolly always manages to make a game of it, whether he’s pulling Jordan’s socks off or clearing stuff off the floor.”
Jordan’s parents heard about Canine Partners for Life (CPL) at a social event. There, they met a person who’d received a dog from CPL and heard the many ways the dog supported his person. Once they got home, they researched the organization and put Jordan’s name on the waiting list. It took two years for CPL to find the perfect match for Jordan but once the two started Team Training, they bonded immediately.
Like many high school juniors, Jordan is looking ahead to graduation (he’s already planning to supply Jolly with his own cap and gown), as well as life after high school. For now, he’s thinking about majoring in industrial engineering, an idea he got from his cousin. There are a few schools in his area that have industrial engineering programs, and he and his mother, Regina, are looking into schools that offer help to students with disabilities.
“When I get to college,” Jordan says, “I know Jolly will need to help me a lot more.”
Regina nods her head. “Once Jordan leaves for college, he’ll be leaning even more on Jolly for help with the everyday aspects of college life.”
For now, though, Jolly and Jordan are enjoying the high school experience. “When we get home from school, our bus driver gets the mail from the mailbox, and he gives it to Jolly, who carries it into the house. We put down our stuff and go outside to play frisbee or take a walk. Jolly helps me in so many ways, but the best part is, he’s my buddy.”