Service dogs truly transform the lives of the individuals they help. Sue Holmes has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects the tissues supporting ones bones and skin, often resulting in joint dislocations. Because of this, Sue uses a specially made harness, which her dog Vinnie pulls to apply pressure to out of place joints.
Sue is now raising money so that others can get a service dog with similar training. Ten years ago, Sue had to leave her job as a nurse because her condition was worsening and have an impact on her daily life. "What happens is my shoulders, my hips, my knees - any joints can all dislocate without doing much movement at all," she said.
"It got to the stage that I couldn't go on the ward without having my shoulders taped to my body so they didn't dislocate when I was at work."
When describing the impact of Vinnie, she said "Vinnie helps with dislocations. He has a special harness I put on and then he pulls in a certain direction and will pull for a certain length of time, until I tell him to stop, and then he'll keep that pressure on until my joint is put back into place. He has transformed my life."
Vinnie and her previous service dog were trained by Canine Partners, a charity that place over 75 dogs every year with people with complex physical disabilities. Beyond his knowledge of Sue's dislocations, he is also trained as a diabetic alert dog.
"It means I can know I've got someone there - I'm less anxious," Ms. Holmes said. "If I have a fall he'll go and get help for me." He also is great at retrieving items, which is great because Sue uses a wheelchair. "He'll go to the fridge and open the door," she said. "Inside it is a basket with a can of coke in and he'll get the basket, bring it to me and then go back and close the fridge door."
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