Wellbeing

Man’s Best Friend Saving Lives

Sarah's service dog, Moxie

I used to think I understood how beautiful it felt to be loved by a good dog. But then I started hanging around with assistance dogs. And now I see how much deeper love can go.

How Service Dogs Make a Difference

A well-trained service dog who has been carefully placed into just the right partnership can transform the life of a person with disabilities. I’m lucky enough to volunteer at Can Do Canines where I’ve come to know lots of success stories like that of Moxie and Sarah.

Sarah has type 1 diabetes and can no longer tell when her blood sugar is dropping. If she doesn’t know it’s dropping, she doesn’t treat it and it can become life-threatening. The ambulance used to come to her house so often, she knew all the EMTs by name.

Enter Moxie, a sweet black Labrador retriever with brown eyes. By the smell of Sarah’s breath, Moxie knows when her blood sugar is dropping and warns her.

Saving Sarah’s Life

Moxie has even taught herself a few ways to keep Sarah safe. She refuses to let Sarah into the car if her blood sugar is low. She sits in the driver’s seat and won’t budge until Sarah checks her blood sugar. Before Moxie came along, Sarah had gone into an insulin reaction while driving and rolled her car.

Sarah is just coming out of two pretty tough years. She says that without Moxie, she’s sure she wouldn’t have lived through it. She remembers one day, after getting the results of a biopsy, heading in to take a shower so her son and husband wouldn’t hear her cry.

“Just as I started to cry, Moxie poked her head through the shower curtain and looked at me with those big eyes of hers, asking how she could help. Finally, she just slid the whole curtain wide open with a “What do you need?” look. All I could do was laugh. Here I’d just had this terrible news, and she was getting me out of the shower and on with my life.”

The Love Between Sarah and Moxie

I asked Sarah how she would describe the connection a person feels for her assistance dog, and she struggled to answer. “I know this sounds strange because I’m 35 years old, but if I’m having a bad day I say, ‘Where’s Moxie? I need to cuddle with Moxie.’ I’ve cuddled with other pet dogs I’ve had, too, but this is different. Besides the love, there’s security here, because she watches over me. It’s like being a kid, and wanting your mom.”

I’m so glad that Sarah and Moxie have found each other. And I feel grateful to volunteer at a place where staff members cry every day because the work they do makes such a difference.

Volunteers Make a Difference

Learn more about volunteer opportunities with CaringBridge.

Comments (4)

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Linda S. Ritlinger Oct 27, 2014 7:03pm
Linda Ritlinger RN, Photographer, NCCU Mass Comm. Student. You wouldn't happen to be in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill Area would you? I have to do a compelling photographic essay with my professional camera for school and I'm looking for a family and/or child that has a compelling story. Bad news is, it has to be in my area and turned in before Thanksgiving! God bless, and I wish you all well, Linda.
Bonnie Sep 30, 2014 6:48am
heart moving story - those dogs are truly guardian angels
Janet Cobus Sep 26, 2014 5:43pm
I am the development director for Can Do Canines and I can attest to the incredible impact our assistance dogs make on the lives of our clients. But, without wonderful volunteers such as Carrie Maloney, the world would not know about these incredible stories. Thank you for posting this inspiring and moving story about Moxie and Sarah--it made me cry--again:)
    Angela Oct 06, 2014 3:50pm
    Thank you for all of the great work your organization does, Janet. It was a moving story for me too!