Service dogs greatly enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. They are trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities and are considered working animals, not pets. Here’s the story of one such example.
Sam Dudak joined the Army when she was 19 going on 20 years old in 1990. She just became a naturalized citizen of the U.S., felt patriotic and knew the Army would help her with college. And… she was excited to go on a new adventure.
Sam went through basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and moved on to Fitzsimons Army Medical Center where she trained as a Biomedical Technician. After AIT, she was expecting to be sent off to Kuwait for Desert Storm. But just as they were getting ready to deploy from Fort Jackson and right before boarding the bus, a cease fire was called. So instead, Sam was stationed at Schofield Barracks, 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii.
Throughout her military career, Sam sustained multiple injuries which left her with residual medical conditions. Those conditions would eventually worsen over time. She was medically discharged from service as a result. She hoped to be a career military woman until retirement, but that wasn’t going to happen now.
By utilizing vocational rehab through the Veterans Administration, Sam obtained her bachelor’s degree. That, combined with her military background, helped her enjoy a great career track in the corporate world. However, that great career came to an end about 10 years ago (2008) because her medical conditions continued to worsen. And due to certain other circumstances in the military, Sam was also diagnosed with PTSD about 2 years ago (2016).
Sam got Truman about 2 years ago. She chose Truman, a border collie, because she felt that this particular breed would be very trainable as a service dog to meet her needs.
Sam’s conditions cause her to constantly drop things, and she has difficulty moving around because of severe arthritic pain. And so, she wanted a service dog that could help her with medical alerts for changes in her blood sugar levels, as well as with mobility.
At first, Truman was hyper. Super smart, but hyper. Sam wasn’t sure he was going to become the right service dog for her. That was until she met Stephanie at Michael’s Angel Paws, an organization that specializes in training service dogs.
Stephanie’s professional skills and knowledge made such a huge difference for Truman. She’s successfully put him on the right track to be truly service dog worthy. He is always there for Sam, helping Sam get around more easily, and is there if he feels Sam isn’t feeling well physically. Truman also helps with Sam’s PTSD, which is something Sam did not expect.
Truman still has long ways to go, but Sam is so excited to be working with Michael’s Angel Paws. Having a service dog has truly changed her life, and she’s so grateful for all the help she receives.