Service Dog of the Day: Shelby

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In March 2008, an Arizona blogger, who goes by the name “Zipperhead,” visited her local animal shelter and laid eyes on an underweight, skittish and obviously abused Rhodesian Ridgeback mix.  The connection was instant and her family adopted the little brown dog, naming her Shelby.

At the time, Zipperhead had been struggling with a brain condition called Chiari Malformation (CM). CM’s are structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. Her condition was further complicated with an associated neurological disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  EDS is a group of inherited disorders that affects connective tissues — primarily joints, skin and blood vessel walls.

The young mother of two was experiencing problems with mobility and thought an assistance dog could really help her when she needed to use her wheelchair or scooter.

After training, Shelby was an excellent helper.  She could retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, retrieve items off shelves and assist with a million other tasks like pulling clothes out of the dryer so her owner could fold them.

One month after her adoption, Shelby’s mom started having daily seizures. Shelby was able to detect these seizures before they happened and she would take it a step farther, crawling into her mom’s lap to prevent her from harming herself.


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“Shelby normally sprawls across my lap a few minutes before a seizure starts to prevent me from going anywhere, falling, and getting injured. That morning, though, instead of sprawling on my lap, she tucked herself up against me, face to face. She stayed like this for more than an hour, until it was over.”

“Now we know why Shelby came into our lives a year ago. Funny how that happens isn’t it? She is one of the best things to ever happen to us. I don’t think we rescued her, but maybe in a way she rescued us?”

You can read Zipperhead’s original post here.

Tune in tomorrow for our next Service Dog of the Day blog.

Share your story about a special assistance dog by posting a comment and link below.