Glenna Foremaster received an assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence in 2010. Along with a beautiful, smart, black Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, Glenna gained confidence, new friends and a more positive outlook.Glenna has spina bifida and is paralyzed from the knees down. Service Dog Misty VI is trained in about 40 commands to assist with everyday practical tasks. Misty retrieves unreachable items off of the floor for Glenna and delivers them to her lap. She also opens and closes doors and drawers, activates light switches and more.
On top of the physical ramifications of her disability, some of Glenna’s challenges are invisible to others. “Misty has helped me mentally and emotionally,” she explains. “At night, she is there to comfort me when I wake up in pain. In the mornings, she gives me a reason to get out of bed. I have her needs to think about so I’m not always thinking about my disability. I feel more confident going out in public by myself because I know Misty is there to help me. Life is easier for me and I am much happier with Misty!”
Glenna works full-time at the IRS. “Misty comes to work with me every day,” says Glenna. “My co-workers love Misty! If they are having bad days, they come and ask if they can pet Misty for a few minutes. Misty helps them, too!” Glenna even has a colleague who is a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions and brings the puppy to work, as well.
Glenna started attending puppy obedience classes with Canine Companions volunteers in the Ogden area back when she was still in the assistance dog application process. Five years later, Glenna is the volunteer chapter president for Salt Lake City. “I have made so many friends from being involved with Canine Companions,” says Glenna. “I have had many wonderful experiences with Misty that I couldn’t have had without her.”
Glenna’s goal is to help partner others like her with life-changing assistance dogs like Misty. She is hoping that the upcoming event her volunteer group is planning, DogFest Walk ‘n Roll Salt Lake City on September 19 at Wheeler Farm, will be a big step in that direction. DogFest will feature a fully accessible dog walk followed by a festival with vendors, assistance dog and police dog demonstrations, games for families with their dogs and more. Registration is free, but fundraising is encouraged and donations will be gratefully accepted. All proceeds will benefit Canine Companions and help provide assistance dogs for people with disabilities.
“I will always be grateful to Canine Companions for the happiness Misty has brought to my life,” says Glenna. “Now, I want to bring that happiness to others.”
If you’re interested in DogFest but do not live near Salt Lake City, visit www.cci.org/dogfest to find an event near you.
Photo by Pat Bourque Photography