In honor of Assistance Dog Week, we are honoring Franklin, who is Susan Maziarz’s service dog.
Shortly after Susan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis she began to feel the effects of the debilitating disease and became wheelchair dependent. The former nurse and mom felt helpless – even useless at times.
Fortunately, Susan was introduced to Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, who recently shared her story. After her first ADAI service dog Cody passed away, she was introduced to Franklin in November of 2016. Half Golden Retriever, half Labrador Retriever, Franklin came from ADAI’s breeding program. He was part of the first litter and started basic training at eight weeks old with trainer Isabell Park as part of Wildcat Service Dogs, an organization at the University of Kentucky that provides basic training and socialization for service and therapy dogs. Isabell mentions in her KET interview about Wildcat Service Dogs that”these dogs aren’t just our dogs, they aren’t our pets we want to take everywhere. We get that privilege so that one day someone can go out in public in ways they couldn’t before.”
According to Isabell, Franklin was more than just a dog. “We both grew and learned a lot about ourselves through our journey together. There have been times where Franklin taught me more than I could teach him. He looks at you as if he truly wants to understand your needs. I knew from the very beginning it was going to be hard, but I couldn’t imagine Franklin spending his life any other way than touching the hearts of everyone he meets.” Franklin continued his advance training at Assistance Dog’s for Achieving Independence through their prison program and furlough fostering. He spent his second year working with inmate Jason, and with his furlough foster Linda. Jason would work on sharpening his skills every day, while Linda would have the opportunity to take him out once a month to give him home and public interaction.
Service dogs like Franklin make it possible for Susan to accomplish more and more, without the help of others around her. “Most of my tasks around the house are completed easily with the help of a service dog,” Susan said. She relies on Franklin to retrieve items for her, pick up dropped objects, and even call for help when needed by pressing her emergency call button.
Franklin helps Susan decrease her physical and mental fatigue – which leaves her feeling energized and alert.
And best of all, Franklin is Susan’s partner and companion who is there to improve her life each and every day.
We salute all of the service dogs, and those that train them!