Jon is a bright, witty young man who lives on his own and doesn’t like asking anyone for help—but due to his muscular dystrophy, he uses a wheelchair and has had to rely on other people to open heavy doors and pick up things he drops. That all changed when Jon was matched with a mixed-breed dog named Solar, who came to Freedom Service Dogs after he was removed from an out-of-state shelter where he had only hours left to live.
Jon applied for a service dog from FSD in October 2015 and was on our waitlist for more than two years. “I hate asking other people for help because I’ve always had an ‘I can do it myself’ attitude,” says Jon. “My biggest hope was that a service dog could eliminate the need for asking people to help with things I can’t do. When I found Freedom Service Dogs and met Solar, he wasn’t what I expected—he was way cooler!”
In fact, Solar doesn’t look at all like the Labs and golden retrievers typically found in FSD’s training program. According to his trainer, Allison Peltier, “Solar is breaking service dog stereotypes. As a mixed breed, Solar’s reputation could be easily misconstrued. As it turns out, however, I have yet to meet a more gentle, intelligent, and friendly dog.”
During Jon and Solar’s placement class in June, Allison discovered that she had paired the two class clowns, who complemented each other perfectly and kept the class laughing. Among other tasks, Solar was trained to open and close doors, pick up Jon’s cell phone and other dropped items, and pull the emergency cord in their apartment if Jon falls or his wheelchair breaks down.
“Solar loves to work, and teaching him a new task is easy,” says Jon.
“He has added to my independence tremendously. Solar is my devoted best friend, my constant companion, my lifeline, and my infinite power source.”
Adds Allison, “Solar certainly has every right not to trust humans, but Jon’s endless patience with him has built a level of trust between the two of them. A true rescue story goes two ways, and Solar has certainly paid it forward.”
Many thanks to the Petco Foundation for sponsoring this team.