I graduated with Balter, a 2-year-old, mellow Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, on February 12, 2016 from Canine Companions for Independence in Oceanside, CA.
CCI is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained Assistance Dogs free of charge.
I was born with very small arms due to the drug Thalidomide. I have managed my entire life to compensate for my disability by using my feet and my small hands for all daily tasks.
However, through a massive stroke 4 years ago, I lost the function of my left small arm.
Balter was tailor trained in 40+ commands to meet my very unique needs. His main job is carrying things for me in his basket and retrieving dropped items from the floor, such as pens, clothing, my purse etc. He also assists me with getting dressed, opening and closing doors and dragging a laundry basket, filled with of grocery bags, from the garage to the kitchen.
United States Federal law allows people with disabilities to go anywhere in public with their Service Dogs, which includes restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and public transportation There are no exceptions.