Fourth service dog assists survivor of four strokes
Four strokes and spinal stenosis have taken their toll on Lori’s body. Extreme weakness on her right side makes it easy for Lori to drop things and hard for her to pick them up. She is at high risk for falls, which means she uses a wheelchair or walker much of the time. But her physical disabilities have not limited Lori’s beautiful spirit or passion for life—and now, her fourth Freedom Service Dog, London, is helping her maintain the independence that is crucial to her identity. See how lovable London assists Lori with day-to-day living in this video.
“Team LoLo,” as Lori and London are affectionately known, graduated from FSD in December 2019. London is the third successor dog Lori has received since she became an FSD client in 1993, when she graduated with service dog Pioneer as part of our first-ever graduating class. All active FSD clients are eligible for successor dogs when their service dogs retire as part of FSD’s lifetime support program, which also includes ongoing support and training—all at no charge to the client.
London is a service dog who loves to work, according to Irene Fobe, her FSD trainer. “She is really special,” says Irene. “Her signature is her wiggle butt; she shakes it from left to right to tell everyone that she’s just so happy to see them. London’s love for life and kind soul make her a great fit for Lori. Like London, Lori radiates kindness. She always greets strangers with a warm hello and has a huge passion for the things, people, and dogs she loves, including FSD and now London.”
When London was matched with Lori, she was custom trained to perform tasks that assist Lori with everyday living and allow her to not have to depend on others, including her husband of 22 years, Peter, who also uses a wheelchair after surviving a car accident. “If you have a disability of any kind and you lose that independence, you lose your identity,” says Lori.
London is crucial to helping Lori maintain her independence by picking up things that Lori drops due to the loss of strength in her hands. “As we were training, and even now, I realize how many things I drop on the floor because of my disabilities,” says Lori. “Manual dexterity is definitely not one of my strong suits, but thanks to London, it is now a minor inconvenience. The way she is able to carry things makes it more tolerable. And thanks to her expert training, London has cut the risk of me doing a face plant by about 80%.”
In addition to picking up dropped items, London opens doors, turns off lights and pulls back the bed covers at night, puts laundry to be washed in a basket, and pulls laundry out of the dryer. “Now if she would just learn to fold!” laughs Lori. “To London, all of this is a game. Life is one big game to her, and I am learning to play it as her best buddy.”
Just as important to Lori is the fact that London gives her the chance to educate people—and especially children—about service dogs. “London is a great conversation starter to bring people into the realm of the disability culture,” says Lori. “I’m not stared at as a human liability. People don’t question what’s wrong with me. They become comfortable with seeing me as a unique individual with a unique way of dealing with the world with a unique—and might I add, cute!—dog.”