|Greg and Chip at a fundraiser for ICAN|
Disability Awareness Month has had a large impact on Greg's life. It was during an event meant to spread awareness that their family first learned that a service dog could be a possible fir for their family. ICAN came and spoke to Greg's daughter's class about the organization and how service dogs can affect a person's life. After hearing this, she came home and told the whole family about what these dogs could do and how they helped people.
Greg received Chip from ICAN in 2008, but this placement was not exactly typical. Greg has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and needed a service dog that was steady and could help him stay mobile as long as possible. Throughout training, Chip had always been a very energetic, rambunctious dog. Greg had the opportunity to interact with Chip and loved him. However, there was still the fear that Chip may be a little too excitable and would pull Greg over, but they gave it a shot. It was love at first sight. "He's a different dog with Greg," said Greg's wife, Beth. While Chip is still a fun-loving guy, when he's with Greg he's at attention and on the job. He still has all kinds of energy, and one of his and Greg's favorite things to do is play Frisbee, but when he's on the go with Greg he knows his job and sticks to it.
|Greg and Chip at Team Training|
One day Greg was at St. Monica's, where he volunteered along with Chip, and was working alone in the morning when he missed the chair and fell. "Chip was there right away," said Greg with pride. He was able to use Chip to brace and get back up. St. Monica's was also a platform for Greg to raise awareness about service dogs, just like he and his family learned about them. Greg's presence in the building allowed the staff and children to learn how to act around service dogs. In turn, the kids were quick to correct their families when they broke serviced dog etiquette.
Chip has been with Greg for almost 8 years and it now a large part of the family's everyday life. Chip often retrieves things for Greg when he drops them and is right by his side if he starts to go somewhere. Beth says that Chip came at the perfect time. Greg had just reached the point where he felt like he should no longer be driving when they got the call about Chip. There were some dark and rough times in the future, but having Chip by his side helped Greg get through them.
"They're best friends," said Beth. "They're so in tune with each other." MS is a progressive disease and Greg's speech has begun to deteriorate. This didn't stop Chip though. Even with the change in Greg's speech, Chip has always understood. Even though they didn't look like the perfect pair on paper, Chip found his forever friend in Greg and he was exactly who Greg needed.
Greg and Chip out gardening