Heartland Service Dogs: Lab gives 19-year-old independence

November 2, 2013 (CHICAGO)

A stray dog with an amazing soul changed the live of a 19-year-old with multiple disabilities. This was made possible by an organization called Heartland Service Dogs.

Since Valentine's Day, Drifter, a three-year-old lab and Amanda Reece have been working together

"He provides mobility. So, he helps me walk because I can get really weak, and I can put pressure into his harness so I don't stumble, I don't fall," Amanda said.

Amanda has two different disabilities.

"I have a muscular disease, which causes my muscles to become very weak, and it makes it harder for me to walk," said Amanda. "And then I also have POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. My blood pressure and my heart rate don't communicate."

After searching for service dogs on the Internet, Amanda found Heartland Service Dogs.

" We train and provide services dogs for people with multiple disabilities. Some can be mobility assistance dogs. Some can be hearing dogs. Some would be PTSD dogs, seizure response dogs, and we're looking to start a new program for diabetes detection dogs," said Linda Fox, the executive director. "Some we have bred ourselves, and then, we have gotten donations of a couple dogs, and we've done some rescues."

Drifter was found on the highway.

"They did a pretty extensive search looking for his family. We weren't able to find anything. When I went over to meet the dog, he was being led up and down the driveway by a 2-year-old child. I thought, well, you know he s got a super personality," Linda said.

"He's a dog that everybody wants to hug. but he knows that this is his girl, and there's nothing that stands in the way of him and his girl and working for her," Linda said.

"I can go out with my friends. I can do things independently now, whereas before, I would always have to have someone with me-- like my mom would have to go with me. And at 19 years old, I want independence," Amanda said. Heartland Ser

vice Dogs is a not-for-profit organization and in its second year, the organization is growing. If you want to get involved, go to www.heartlandservicedogs.org.

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