Emma and Penny
At The Ability Center, our Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence (ADAI) Program matches qualified dogs with people who desire more independence, freedom, and access in their life. Emma Felker was no stranger to the benefits that having a service dog could bring to her life. Emma’s first dog Diego was matched with her in 2009. As Diego grew older, Emma realized she still needed love and physical assistance that Diego could no longer provide. In spring of 2017, Penny entered the picture and Emma’s life was forever changed. Training was unique to their team, specializing in what Emma needed most. Penny’s objective was to assist Emma during her transfers in and out of her scooter. By connecting the perfect companions, the outcome of the partnership far exceeded all expectations.
From the moment they were introduced, a special bond was formed between Emma and Penny. Our staff developed a pathway to independence, challenging what was possible throughout Emma’s journey. She reflects, “I want to thank everyone for the part they played in teaching Penny to work with me. I am certain many hours were poured out so that she can do what she does for me.”
No longer does Emma worry about showering safely or stress about shifting in and out of bed. Emma reveals, “I know having a service dog adds mobility and independence to my life. In return, I provide my service dog a warm home where they will be loved.”
Emma expected a dog would take time and energy and she was up for the task. “Having a service dog adds responsibilities to my daily routine – brushing, bathing, and making sure Penny is getting enough exercise are my main priorities. The dog has a fenced in yard to watch the squirrels and sunbath in a relaxed and comfortable environment,” shares Emma.
Sharing this story is an amazing opportunity to spotlight the physical and emotional impact a dog can have on a person with a disability. ADAI is mission driven and Emma’s experience is a perfect example of our mission fulfilled.