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woman with his service dog


Richard and Otis

Richard with his companion dog Otis

Richard’s family is always on the go. With two young boys involved in sports, there is constantly a practice, game or tournament to attend. Although Richard is his children’s biggest fan, a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis brought big changes to Richard’s life and forced him to take life at a slower pace.

Richard was diagnosed with MS eight years ago and about five years into the diagnosis, his symptoms began to worsen, specifically his mobility. He can only walk short distances now and needs the assistance of a cane. The left side of his body has been more severely affected so he has very limited use of his left arm and hand. These challenges have made it difficult for him to attend large events in public so he found himself staying home more. With his wife and kids always out of the house, Richard was alone more often than not.

After frequently dog sitting the neighbor’s dog, Richard knew he wanted a companion dog for himself. He researched organizations online and was impressed with the recommendations and reviews he found on Canine Partners for Life so he applied for a home companion dog and was matched with Otis this past August.

Otis is Richard’s buddy. When everyone is out of the house, the two of them spend quality time together. Richard said, “Although I’m home alone, I’m never alone anymore because I have Otis to help me out.” Along with providing Richard with companionship and love, Otis is trained to pick up his cane if he drops it and to bring his phone or keys to him. Their favorite activity together is going for long walks through the neighborhood. Richard cranks up the speed on his scooter and they go for five miles at a time! Otis loves it!

Otis may be Richard’s companion but he quickly became a member of the family. The kids love to play with him and he always greets them with a toy at the door. Otis even tries to help Richard’s wife with the groceries by carrying the bags! Richard said, “Otis has brought a whole new level of joy and love into the family. With my symptoms getting worse, it’s not a fun situation, especially for the kids, so it is great to see the happiness that he has also brought them.”