Barbara and Marco

“Marco has brought Barbara so much happiness. I’ve seen her desire to be independent grow because of him,” says Barbara’s mom, Gloria. Marco is Barbara’s Canine Companions assistance dog.

"I knew an assistance dog would help bridge the gap between Barbara and the rest of the world, but I didn’t know if we’d qualify since Barbara cannot give traditional commands to a dog,” says Gloria.

Barbara has cerebral palsy. She has limited verbal communication and is quadriplegic.

But Barbara did qualify! And now, over 2 years after receiving Marco from Canine Companions, Gloria can’t imagine Barbara’s life without him.

“Barbara and Marco have developed a special way of communicating. Their bond is incredible. Barbara will call Marco with clicks of her tongue and he knows that she is calling him. He will come to her and push his head under her arm so she can pet him. He knows how to position himself so Barbara can reach him,” explains Gloria.

People used to talk to Gloria, ignoring Barbara. But when Barbara holds Marco’s leash, people talk to her directly. “Marco has improved Barbara’s self-esteem so much. She loves the attention and has so much pride when she takes him on walks,” says Gloria. Before Marco, Barbara used to be self conscious about using her natural voice in public. But with Marco, Barbara will firmly tell people “no” if they ask to pet him while he is busy working. Marco has given her a sense of ownership and responsibility.

“Barbara will tell Marco to ‘sit down,’ and she says it with such authority. As a mother, it has been amazing to see her confidence grow,” states Gloria.