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Buffy and Clint decided that their Christmas gift to me this year would be a chance to write another post for their blog. I think they are far better writers than me. But I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the many gifts they give to me… all year long!

Buffy and Clint looking cute in their Santa hats!

A gift can be something physical that is given to another person like a present. Or it can be something that is done for another like helping them in some special way. Both of which are done without expecting anything in return.

I think of the tasks that a service dog does for me as a way of them gifting me with independence. They help me in ways that give me the ability to navigate challenges with ease. And expect nothing in return. Other than praise and a few treats. 

Buffy gave me nearly eight years of independence with the tasks she performed. And the many ways she helped me each and every day. She also played my fun dog training games. And was instrumental in making some of my dreams come true.

A love like no other!

My partnership with another exceptional service dog will continue to provide that independence. Clint will do many of the same things Buffy did. And will also help me in additional ways.

With the progression of my disability over the past couple of years, my needs have changed. And Clint will be able to help make these newer challenges easier. In future blog posts, he will share more on the additional ways he is helping me.

This has been a year filled with many blessings. The biggest of which was my partnership with Clint.

But it has also brought additional challenges for my overall safety. Ones that are unimaginable in many ways. Not only for me but for many.

The pandemic has forced us to look at life differently. And the normalcy of our days has been changed in ways we never would have expected. Non-essential activities are not happening. No lunches out with friends. No casual shopping. And no gatherings with friends and family.

But chronic illness does not abide by the rules of a shutdown or stay at home orders. Throughout it all, I have continued to have appointments with my doctors, go for my infusions, and have my procedures done.

When I leave home with a service dog by my side I know I will have the helping paws I need to push that automatic door push plate. Or tug open that big heavy door. Or pick up any item I may drop. 

Clint provides me with the ability to navigate my world with confidence. Especially in these challenging times of Covid-19. I do not have to touch any surfaces because Clint opens any door that we encounter. 

And if I drop something he is right there… ready and willing to retrieve it for me. In addition to giving me the independence of doing it on my own, it also keeps me safer. Another person doesn’t have to come close to me. Or touch the object before giving it to me.

Clint retrieving a dropped pen!

Clint and I can stay in our little bubble. Well, maybe not so little because my chair is big and takes up a lot of space. So instead, I should say our “own” bubble!

Every day is a gift in so many ways. And a service dog is a true blessing in my life. The companionship and unconditional love are like no other.

And the independence given is life-changing. I don’t have to sit in front of a closed-door waiting for someone to come by and open it. 

I don’t have to look at a dropped item and wonder how I could possibly reach it. Or how long it will be before someone is there to pick it up for me.

Clint effortlessly does these things for me… and so much more! He enriches my life and enhances my independence far beyond measure. As did Buffy. There are not enough words to express my gratitude for having these exceptional dogs by my side.

So as this challenging year nears an end I have so much to be thankful for. And looking ahead to the coming year I am hopeful that many of these challenges will lessen.

But I do know that no matter what lies ahead I will be able to navigate any challenges we encounter with ease. Clint will give me the confidence I need. And the ability to stay safe and independent. The gift of a service dog has changed my life for the better!