Scroll Top


Stella the pup

Sandra (not her real name) is a disabled Army veteran in her late 30s. She was medically discharged due to neurological issues that resulted in two surgeries and the insertion of a shunt. One of the surgeries even led to a stroke, and as a result, she had to completely re-learn how to walk and talk. Her speech is still halting as she searches for a word, and she suffers constant pain and headaches. Sandra also endured years of domestic abuse with her ex-husband. The final straw was when he shot her service dog in a rage. After leaving him, she relocated and entered the DOJ Address Confidentiality Program to escape his constant threats.

When she reached her new home, the search for a new service dog was on. Sandra’s physical limitations and emotional trauma contributed to severe PTSD and agoraphobia. She had been searching for a dog who might be able to help her but found no organization that would allow her to adopt. She struggled to find an animal from her home.

Rain had lingered and lingered at our Josephine County Animal Shelter, and unsuccessfully attended a couple adoption events. We couldn’t really figure out why no one wanted to adopt such a polite, well-mannered dog. Her only real negative was her dislike of sharing tight space with other animals, but she did not react when around them. We took to posting Rain outside of our immediate area, so that she might have a wider chance of finding a home—and sure enough, she caught Sandra’s eye.

Sandra’s story touched us and although her requirements for a dog were tough, we thought Rain might be up to the task. Our volunteer, Mary, took Rain directly to Sandra’s home for the initial meeting. It went okay, but Rain can be rather reserved with strangers; we didn’t necessarily see sparks fly. Nevertheless, we put Rain through some paces to see how she would react in a stimulating environment. She was calm and quiet…and Sandra was, too. We all decided it was worth a shot. The following are updates from Sandra during her first week with Rain (now named Stella):

“I have used toys as a positive reinforcement training tool, and she has quickly learned the “stay” and “wait” commands. She also learned very quickly that we do not socialize when we are out, and the vest means business.”

“Yesterday we took 3 separate 30 minute walks. I have sunburned shoulders as proof. She saw cars, food trucks, lots of dogs and people, and was so well behaved. I got her to ignore everything, and did not let anyone pet her. I’m really glad she is in my home.”

“She has been to restaurants, clothing stores, and other places with me this week. And she does phenomenally well.”

“Today my pain level has been a 9, and she won’t leave my side. We’re so attached already. It makes me so happy.”

We are so thrilled that these two have met their match in each other, and we are proud to know such an unbelievably strong woman. We hope that Stella continues to assist you, comfort you, heal you, and love you—just as you do her.

What a special bond we share with our pets, and what an incredible service they can provide. Not only physical assistance but emotional healing as well.