Working Dog in the Work Place

Kimberly is no stranger to the assistance a Canine Companions dog can provide. Kimberly was born with kyphoscoliosis and became paralyzed when she was a toddler because of a spinal fusion. She received assistance dog, Lissa, when she was 13 years old. “Lissa made me more confident,” says Kimberly. “She helped me feel more comfortable talking with new people. Before I was pretty shy, but having a dog with me made me more relaxed.”

With Skilled Companion Lissa by Kimberly’s side, people would approach them and make conversation. Before Lissa, this rarely happened. Lissa was an attention-grabber.

When Kimberly turned 18, she and Lissa got certified by Canine Companions as a service dog team. That big step enabled Kimberly to take her assistance dog wherever she went without her parents, including to Chapman University in California. If Kimberly dropped a pencil, Lissa retrieved it for her. If she needed a door pulled open, Lissa helped. Lissa even activated light switches. Of course, Lissa continued helping Kimberly make friends, as well.

Today, Kimberly is partnered with Service Dog Karsten. Karsten does everything Lissa did for Kimberly with the addition of one specially-trained skill: he pulls her manual wheelchair and assists her when she fatigues. “He runs fast!” says Kimberly. “It’s really fun.” Karsten performs many tasks to assist Kimberly as a working professional in an office environment, such as picking up dropped papers, carrying files, and ensuring she gets to meetings on time by pulling her wheelchair.