Danyelle & Zeva

“Zeva is like a part of me. I don’t know how I ever survived without her.” – Danyelle, only two months in with her new service dog

I got sick when I was just four years old. I don’t remember what life was like before I got sick and as a result, I didn’t realize that my life was different. When I got older, as most kids do, I tried to be more independent. I tried to do things without my mom. I wasn’t able to gain the independence that was normal for someone my age due to my illness and this caused me to be very angry. I had serious behavior and mood issues. Eventually I learned to accept that I would never really be independent and I would end up relying on others my entire life.

I went to college and my friends took over some of the things that my family had always helped me with. As I neared college graduation, I started to plan for my future. But because I had a lack of independence, I still had mood issues. I truly didn’t like what I saw for my future and I tried to look for ways to improve my situation and make things more hopeful.

I was introduced to the concept of service dogs but they were either too expensive for my budget or involved knowledge of how to train dogs. I got discouraged. But then, through an online search, I found Freedom Service Dogs and I really liked what I saw. I applied for a dog and was so excited when their team called to tell me that they had a dog for me.

When I first met Zeva, I instantly felt like she was my dog and with her I would be able to do so much. Before I even brought Zeva home I started to see a change in how I was feeling and acting.

With Zeva I am more independent. She makes sure I don’t fall and when I am on the ground she helps me up. She’ll find me help when I need it by either getting my phone for me, finding a person who can help me or grabbing my inhaler. I use her as something steady to hold on to when I get dizzy and she sits in my lap so no one trips over me when I fall. She’ll help me with the laundry by bringing the dirty hamper into the laundry room and she’ll hand me clothes to hang up. Zeva will open and close doors and turn out the lights. And she always keeps an eye on me and makes sure to cheer me up when I am upset.

I feel so much better and I am doing more. With Zeva, I am excited to see where life goes. I may never be healthy like everyone else, but I still get to explore and grow like most young adults. I am a lot calmer and less frustrated. I am more comfortable around people and when I go places I don’t worry because I know she will come to my rescue if I have a problem. I go places now that I have not visited in years. Everyone loves Zeva, she’s overall brought us a lot closer as a family. They have an easier time because they don’t need to do as much for me and feel much safer letting me do things on my own.

A Freedom Service Dog doesn’t just help the one dog or the individual receiving the dog. He or she helps everyone’s life that the individual is then able to touch with the help of that dog.

Contact Erin Conley at econley@freedomservicedogs.org for all media inquiries.