John and Service Dog DJ

When I was in my mid-20s, I met someone with a Service Dog, and the more time I spent with her, the more I knew that some day a dog could help me. Fast forward 25 years to 2017, and the time was right. Although I had been in a wheelchair for 25 years, I now needed help with things I couldn’t do anymore.

I still can’t believe the job NEADS did matching me with DJ. But it wasn’t just me. There were three of us in our class, and they did a really good job of matching each person with their dog. And you can’t measure the importance of the two weeks of training.

DJ has changed my life in many ways.

She’s made life so much easier. I work at U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, and there are tons of automatic doors – she opens them for me. Picking up things I’ve dropped on the floor had become nearly impossible. But now, when something hits the floor, DJ runs for it. Before she picks it up, she looks at me, waiting for the command to bring it right to me.

She’s changed the quality of my life, too. I used to be set in my ways – get up, shower, go to work, come home and eat, go to bed. Now, there’s no more sleeping in until 10am on a Saturday. I’m up at 5:30 to get her out, fed, and walked. I go to the store to shop instead of just ordering online. I used to call in sick a lot, but I haven’t missed a day of work since I got her. I had started closing myself off from people, but it’s hard to stay that way when they stop and ask me questions about DJ.

Thanks to DJ, I have a new lease on life. I know I need to take care of her, because she takes care of me. I think we’re a great team.