Paws 4 Erin

 

 

My name is Erin. I am a 41-year-old woman with cerebral palsy. I have two brothers and as I grew up, my parents always considered me no more and no less than “one of three children.”

That meant no special treatment. At school, I was fully integrated from the very beginning, because it never occurred to my mother that it should be any different; she enrolled me in kindergarten and mentioned my disability as an afterthought. I skied because my brothers skied. I had the time of my life at a family camping spot that was anything but accessible to wheelchairs (My dad put up some hand-fashioned parallel bars in the middle of nowhere so I could keep up with my exercises). I learned to drive the lawnmower. I had my share of “dish nights,” no matter how much I hated drying cutlery. Every house the family lived in had stairs that I crawled up and slid down. And I was expected to land my own fish, muscle spasms, poor balance, and fearful, excited pleas notwithstanding.

Talk about drawing a winning lottery ticket.

These days, I live alone in a downtown Ottawa condo, work full time, and still love my family to distraction. It remains important to me to live as much as possible as an independent part of the mainstream.

But the hard truth is that as I get older, keeping myself out of pain and maintaining my range of motion, thereby my level of independence, has become a greater challenge than ever before. Regular physical therapy appointments help me to manage spasticity-induced back pain and I’m having difficulty with my floor-to-chair, chair-to-chair, chair-to-bed, and chair-to-toilet transfers.

My physical challenges have been compounded over the last five years by the early onset of osteoporosis as well as repeated struggles with depression and anxiety. These periods of darkness, besides being unspeakably frightening for both me and my family, wreak havoc on my spasticity and set back my physical health exponentially. I must do everything I can to reduce the chances of another depressive episode or at least to have a mitigation plan in place should I find myself in a dark place again. Medication is part of the plan, of course, but it only goes so far.

It is my hope that a service dog, trained to help me with mobility challenges, will also be a steady presence that I can focus on to keep myself grounded when I feel out of control and when I am most lonely and afraid.

I applied for a service dog once before through another organization and was approved. Unfortunately, Maya, the dog I was working with, had to be removed from the program before we graduated. I was heartbroken and discouraged. And then, this year, I found the hard-working, big-hearted organization that is Kingston 4 Paws. In the staff, I found incredibly supportive people, with can-do attitudes, who gave me the confidence to submit a service dog application and believe that, this time, I would bring a canine partner home.

Thank you for believing with me and helping me to reach my fund-raising goal to make this happen.

                                                                

                                                                 
                                                                      

                                                                         

 


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