"Life before Canine Companions was good, but I was dependent on others," shares graduate Amy Chally. "My life would not be what it is today without Canine Companions; it feels good to do things for myself." Amy graduated with Service Dog Yazzen in 2005.
"Together we achieved something great-my independence!" Amy says. "Before I received Yazzen, when I dropped something or needed an item out of my reach, I had to ask someone for it. At college if I needed to use the restroom, I had to ask someone to come with me just to make sure I would be able to get the main door open once it was closed. With Yazzen, suddenly I had a friend who could get items, tug open doors and help me in so many ways.
In early 2014, almost nine years after first graduating, Amy knew she had to consider life after Yazzen. "I was on my own for about three to four months due to Yazzen's health. Having experienced life on my own again, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to apply for a successor dog. The dogs make it so much easier to be independent and to me independence is really, really important."
Nearly a quarter of the North Central Region's graduates are successors-meaning after their first dog retired from service, they reapplied for another assistance dog. "For me it was an easy decision. Once I knew Yazzen wasn't going to be able to work for me anymore, and I saw what life was going to be like without a dog, it was a no brainer," Amy explains. "But my expectations were very high. After Yazzen, I knew what I wanted and I knew what I expected. There were very big paws to fill."
Amy attended Team Training in August 2014 and was matched with Successor Service Dog Portland II. "I am happy to report he is meeting every single one of my high expectations," Amy says. "Both Yazzen and Portland have been my lifelines to independence."
The Companion Holiday 2014