Karla and Walker
This is a follow up story about Karla and ICAN facility dog, Walker.
Karla has been involved with ICAN for a very long time. She first received Maddie, a facility dog to help her at the Community Rehab Hospital. At one point, she was asked to furlough a labradoodle puppy named Walker. He was just a puppy when she first received him. She says normally puppies can be a pain, as they are high-maintenance and seem to have unlimited energy, but she instantly fell in love with Walker. She did not, in any way, want to give him up. He was great at training and had a sweet personality to go along with it. He loved going to work with her and meeting all the volunteers and patients. He was a natural. When she had to give him up to go to the prison, she was heartbroken. However, a few weeks later, around Christmas time, Karla received a phone call asking if she could take Walker back. Apparently, he was not adjusting to life in the prison well at all. He was anxious and the environment was too much for him. Karla was immediately thrilled to take him back. She said after that night, he never spent another night in the prison again.
Karla already had a dog, named Maddie as mentioned before. Maddie was getting older and needed to retire, and since Walker was already familiar with the facility, it made since for him to take over her duties. Everyone at the hospital was thrilled. They had watched him grow up for a little puppy into a full blown service facility dog and he had basically spent his entire life at the hospital. Patients wanted to work harder for him than they did the actual therapists and they loved the "visits" he did (his most popular command), which is resting his head on someone's lap.
He had quite the fan base. Volunteers loved him, patients loved him, staff loved him, everyone did. In fact, Karla shared that one of their regular volunteers actually ended up becoming a patient at their facility. Walker immediately seemed to know who it was, he ran down the hallway, barged into her room, jumped on her bed and immediately snuggled up to her. According to Karla, everyone in the room almost lost it. He knew exactly where she was and who she was and that she needed him, and he was there in a heartbeat. Karla says that is just the kind of dog he is. He wants to be around the people he loves constantly and despite being a bigger dog, seems to think he is a 'lap dog'.
Lastly, she says getting a service dog, whether it be a facility dog or a personal service dog, will absolutely change you. It will change your lifestyle, it will change your quality of life and it will bring you more join than you dreamed possible.