My journey started at the age of 12 when I started having health problems. My heart started beating as if I had run a marathon! My parents were advised to give me cardiac medicines which did not work and eventually resulted in a heart procedure. After my surgery I started getting sick, my joints hurt and at times it was very difficult to walk. I was diagnosed with Lupus and not long after that I was also diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Central Auditory Disorder which at times requires me to read lips because the words sound distorted. Within a few months of each diagnosis I was told that I had a disease that could take my life and another that would rule my thoughts and yet another that would affect how I process words. I was only fifteen at the time.
My physician suggested that a service animal may be beneficial to me and she thought a greyhound would be a perfect match! My parents went into warrior mode to find the perfect dog. They soon discovered that there was a lot of misinformation out there and that it could be a challenge to find a match in a short amount of time. So, they took an unconventional approach. We visited a greyhound rescue and that is where my life changed forever because we found Mike! We soon discovered that we needed him as much as he needed us! He had been re-homed several times and was seven years old! When we looked in those big brown eyes there was no question that he was the one! We took him home and he began his training with Geralyn Kelly from Elite Canine.
Mike was trained to all of the tasks required to become my service dog. He learned to open doors, aid in balance and alert my parents when I needed them. Nothing prepared us for what he did next! Mike started alerting when my heart rate changed or when I was having a more serious cardiac issue. He usually gave us a warning before I even knew that I was in trouble. He could not be trained to do that but amazingly he was tuning into my needs. He also alerts when I am in pain or aids in distraction
techniques for my OCD and panic attacks. Mike is the only greyhound in the United States that can sense irregular hearts rhythms.
Because I didn't fit the worlds perception of what it meant to have a service dog it was difficult for me at times to go out in public! I was questioned by well meaning people or others that wanted a vest like Mike's so they could take their pets out too. Business owners at times questioned me as well because of their lack of knowledge of the American Disability Act and that it protected people with service animals.
I became very frustrated and just wanted to fit in with my peers. My parents told me that I could "grump" through life or I could use it for something good and help others. Harts2Paws was born after I realized I had a lot to share and that Mike and I could help change the worlds perceptions of service animals and who needs them one child or teen at a time! It is very challenging at times to share my story as my lupus causes me to be in pain most days it has been a blessing to put myself out there and share with others!
Love and Paws,
Becca & Mike
There once was a girl that needed a service dog....and a retired greyhound that needed a home.
A miracle occurred and they found each other! Now a retired greyhound that raced around a track now races to the aid of the girl because he knows her heart!
Isn't life beautiful?