Olivia and Madison

Olivia and Madison

Olivia and Madison’s story first begins with a chance meeting at a store in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Olivia and her mother were in town visiting family when they saw Assistance Dogs graduate Deb Wagner out with her assistance dog.

Intrigued by the idea of a service dog, Olivia’s mom approached Deb and began asking her about the process. What they soon discovered was a program that could fill Olivia’s life with greater freedom and independence.


Oliva lives with spina bifida and experiences difficultly when walking. She searched for an opportunity to become more independent while expanding her social skills.

The call for a match came as a long-awaited gift, perfectly timed right before Olivia was to enter her first year of high school. Since becoming a team in the summer of 2018, Madison helps Olivia navigate the halls at school, keep her balance as she opens her locker, and picks up items Olivia may drop.

Madison does her part at home, too. Grabbing laundry out of the washer and handing it to Olivia to fold is just one way the pair tag team chores together.


This partnership was made possible by a Puppy Sponsorship supported by the Auxiliary to The Ability Center. Gwen Ames, President of the Auxiliary explains, “We are excited to know that Olivia can now live more independently with her service dog, Madison.”

Funds used for this sponsorship were raised from our Auxiliary’s annual Style Show that supports initiatives of The Ability Center.


Oliva is active, so Madison was trained to keep up. Tae Kwon Do, ballet, and miracle league baseball are activities that fill her active schedule.

There are more than just physical improvements since Madison entered the family. Olivia’s mom credits Madison for going above and beyond tasks expected of a service dog. “Olivia is a loving and compassionate young lady and we have seen her become more independent each day.”

Olivia agrees, “I’m much happier. She has given me confidence in my ability to care for someone else. I also no longer have to depend on my mom or other people to do things for me. We could not have asked for a better group of people to work with.”

This partnership was made possible by the Auxiliary to The Ability Center puppy sponsorship and the Lott Conlin grant.