Specially trained service dogs provide an invaluable asset to families who have a loved one in need. In 2010, Rick Phelps of West Lafayette, Indiana, learned the devastating news that he had early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. At only fifty-nine-years old, Phelps was riddled with stress and anxiety over how he was going to cope as the disease progressed.
Everything changed for Rick when he was introduced to a fourteen-month-old German Shepherd named Sam. The German Shepherd was trained explicitly by DogWish, Inc., to understand and help with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses. Phelps said it took some time to acclimate to having an attentive dog around constantly. But, soon enough, Rick and his dog Sam formed a meaningful bond.
Phelps said the German Shepherd service dog had helped him more in a few weeks than all the medications he had been taking for over two years. Rick commented that Sam is better than any medicine. The dog has helped ease Rick’s anxiety from very high to low and manageable.
One of the first things Sam did to help Rick was when Rick forgot something in his car one day. He turned around to go outside when the German Shepherd blocked the door. Sam would not allow Rick to go outside alone without the company of the dog. Rick felt immediate relief, knowing the German Shepherd would always watch out for him.
Here’s a nice video Rick made of Sam playing in the snow:
Service dogs like Sam are trained to be one hundred percent focused on their owner. They will alert their owner if there’s a danger, like a stove that’s been forgotten to be turned off. They help their owner keep from getting lost in stores, or while driving. They can help locate the owner’s car in a crowded parking lot. They remind their owner to take important medications. They also provide loving companionship.