Craig graduated with his service dog Troop in the November 2015 Canine Assistants Recipient Camp. From our very first phone interview, we knew he would be a perfect fit. In March of 1992, Craig was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage IV. In July of 1993, he received a bone marrow transplant. While he is cancer free today, he lives with a disease known as Graft vs. Host – a disease caused from him receiving an allogenic bone marrow transplant. At the age of 52, his disease caused him to have both legs amputated below the knee and also the side effect of restrictive lung function. He will soon have two complete shoulder replacements among other anticipated surgeries. Troop has been a Godsend for Craig and his family. He assists with mobility, provides confidence and unconditional love at just the right time in Craig’s life. While they are still learning about their relationship and bond, Troop has made a tremendous impact on his life. “We are still trying to get our arms around this gift y’all have given us. I hope I can show you that we are worthy.”
Ericka graduated with her service dog Paisley in the August 2011 Canine Assistants Recipient Camp. At the age of three, she was diagnosed with a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) – a disease that affects around 115,000 Americans which causes weakness and deterioration of the muscles and nerves. Despite some of her everyday obstacles such as spasms, cramps, aches and pains, she still strives to do her best with dealing with life. She is the Co-Founder of the Emosah Foundation whose mission is to pave pathways in communities that make a difference in the everyday lives of people of all ages with disabilities through the encouragement of social independence, disabled sports, and inspiration to fulfill educational and work goals. Ericka knew her life was about to change when she got the call about being accepted into the Canine Assistants program. She feels that Paisley changes the conversation for her when people are getting to know her and most importantly gives her the confidence to be more independent and explore more.