Kalie & Slider

Service dog helps woman live fuller life

Four years ago, a young woman named Kalie and her FSD service dog, Slider, appeared in our “Love Letters” video, a sweet, seven-minute tribute filled with heartfelt words of gratitude from some of our clients to their loyal, life-changing service dogs.

Kalie was born with spina bifida, a rare birth defect that occurs when the spine doesn’t fully develop. In the video, she speaks of the physical challenges caused by her condition. “I’m not able to walk, so I use a wheelchair to get around. I don’t have any strength from my lower back down, so bending over to pick things up is difficult. And if I fall out of my chair, I’m not strong enough to get back in it on my own.”

Kalie also shared the sense of loneliness she sometimes felt living at home with her parents, who both work. Happily, Kalie’s world has grown bigger and brighter since she was matched with a gentle black Lab named Slider and graduated from FSD in 2016.

Today, Slider is Kalie’s shadow, accompanying her everywhere she goes, picking up items from the floor, pulling the laundry basket, alerting Kalie’s mother if she falls out of her wheelchair, and most importantly, giving Kalie the confidence to attend college and meet new people. She is currently six months away from completing a certificate in medical coding, a program she started on campus but is finishing online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of her time with Slider at college, Kalie says, “Slider was magnificent! He is the perfect icebreaker, because he has that face everyone wants to love.”

“The biggest change in my life since getting Slider is my attitude,” says Kalie. “He makes me so happy. I was pretty down before I met him, and I’m so much better now. He has made me so much more independent and free.”

Learn more about our training program for individuals with physical disabilities.  

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