Kayne and Service Dog Nikki

Nikki has been with me for about a year now. She has changed my life dramatically, and I can’t imagine it without her.

Nikki helps me with my daily tasks. She picks up items I drop, opens and closes doors, turns light switches on and off, pushes buttons at elevators and handicap doors, and fetches items like my phone, remote control, and shoes. But she is more than a Service Dog to help with tasks. She is a friend and a family member.

People have asked me why I chose to work with NEADS, especially since I live in Kansas, many miles away from Princeton. I began my search with a list of 25 organizations, and as soon as I went to the NEADS website I felt a calling. It was more personable than many of the other websites, and there was a lot of in-depth information about the application process as well as success stories of past clients and their Service Dogs.

I also liked that many NEADS dogs come from select breeders, are trained by prison inmates, and get the needed training and interaction all day long rather than sitting in a kennel a large portion of the day. The application process was impressive, too. It was very clear that one of NEADS’ top priorities was to identify a dog that has the skills and temperament for my specific needs and personality.

NEADS has amazing staff and trains outstanding Service Dogs who are easy to tell apart from other Service Dogs. Wherever I go, I hear how well-behaved Nikki is. I also met some great friends during the two weeks of training, who I still keep in touch with. Once you become a NEADS client, you become part of the family.

My answer to other veterans and others who are wondering if they should apply for a Service Dog? “Do it!” After my injury, I waited two years before applying because I didn’t know if a Service Dog was right for me. I wish I had applied sooner.