Wallis and Mork

A service dog team

Wallis Brozman has a form of dystonia, a generalized movement disorder that causes painful muscle contractions and abnormal involuntary spasms that can render her essentially paralyzed within minutes. Her dystonia has impacted the muscles around her vocal cords, limiting her voice to little more than a whisper. Wallis is fluent in American Sign Language and graduated from Gallaudet University, the only 4-year university serving the Deaf and hard of hearing.

In 2009, Wallis received Service Dog Caspin from Canine Companions for Independence. Wallis taught Caspin over 55 commands in American Sign Language to further their communication. During many dystonic episodes, Caspin pulled Wallis safely home and stayed by her side, helping her independently manage attacks by becoming her hands, legs and a call for help.

Together as a team, Wallis and Caspin participated in dozens of media and outreach appearances from local demonstrations, national news segments and two international National Geographic shows.

In April 2016, Wallis was paired with her second Canine Companions assistance dog, Mork. “Mork came into my life exactly when I needed him most,” say Wallis. “With Caspin’s early retirement, I physically and emotionally collapsed in on myself. I was scared of being alone in public places and couldn’t be fully independent. Emotionally, I felt like people saw me with only sadness in their eyes.”

Since graduating, Mork has been picking up on dozens of commands in American Sign Language and figuring out how to best help Wallis. He has learned innovative life-saving skills such as tugging Wallis with a rope toy on her chair when she is unable to navigate narrow ramps or thresholds or retrieving her phone. “He has brought the joy and pride back into my life. Even on my worst days, I can count on Mork to provide me the same level of dignity that Caspin gave me.”