At the end of this month, junior Sheena Walter will be headed to Pennsylvania to meet her new long-awaited partner, Pebbles.
Walter, who was diagnosed with Spasticgate Cerebral Palsy prior to her freshman year of college, will use the three-year-old puppy to assist Walter’s with everyday tasks such as helping her maintain balance, picking up things she has dropped and for support up and down stairs.
“Pebbles will have a special harness with a handle on it that I can hold to help me maintain my balance,” said Walters. “She is crucial to me because she is like a moving hand rail.”
The road to receiving a Service Animal has not been short or easy. After interviews, video requests and countless questionnaires, Walters was notified in early August that she was selected to receive a Service Animal.
“Pebbles will be more of a partner and an assistant that a pet would be considered,” said Walters. “She is a Service Animal and a lot of people misunderstand what service dogs do. One of my jobs after I receive Pebbles is to educate people about service animals.”
While receiving a Service Animal is like adding a child into your life, Walters said she feels blessed to have been selected to have a service animal and she understand that she is about to take on the huge responsibility that comes along with the generous gift of help that the dog will provide.
“It will be a huge shift in responsibility,” said Walters. “I have to make sure that I get up early to get to class before others do so that I can give her something to drink if she is hot. It is important that I treat her with the best of care. I will have to put her first over myself.”
The journey to receive Pebbles has been bitter sweet for Walters. The joy of knowing that she will have help means that she has the burden of coming up with approximately $2,500 before she heads to Pennsylvania at the end of this month.
“I have to buy her certain foods, books and other materials with certain instructions on how to care for her, so that she can do they best of service to me,” said Walters. “With in the first year I have to meet 10-12 times with a trainer who charges $100 per hour.”
During her three-week tour in Pennsylvania, Walters will be on various field trips to learn how to handle her new dog in every possible situation. Admission alone for these field trips is approximately $150 and does not include food.
“A little by many would help out enormously,” said Walters. “I understand that if I do not receive the money I will have to make due, even if that means that I am not able to eat several meals.”
Most college students are known for not having much money but by forgoing one drink at Starbucks, and donating the $5 to Walters, she will have enough money for a sandwich or food for Pebbles.
If you would like to donate, money can be dropped off the Baptist Student Ministry Office in an envelope marked with Walter’s name on the front. If you would like to give the money to Walters in person, e-mail her at email@example.com to set up a meeting time.
“If I am so blessed as to receive more than I need, I will donate the remainder to the K9 Partners, so others in need can receive their own service animal,” said Walters.