Our Dogs

Meet service dog team Amy Ewing and Rebel
We met Amy while she was at the Shepherd Center receiving treatment for a spinal cord injury caused by a diving accident. For Rebel, it was love at first sight, and they graduated as a team in 2006. They both live in N.Y., and Rebel helps Amy navigate her college campus.

Meet service dog team Charlie Brown and Brandon Young
Charlie Brown was the very first certified service dog placed by GCI. He began visiting Brandon in 2003 when Charlie was 7-weeks-old and Brandon was nine-years-old. The entire family worked hard to help raise and train Charlie Brown to make life more fulfilling for Brandon, who has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. They graduated as a service dog team in 2005, and the entire family has dedicated themselves to giving back to our community through performing disability awareness presentations with Charlie and raising money to provide animal therapy and service dogs to other families in need.


Please meet service dog team Glen & Ranger Lopez
Atlanta resident Glen Lopez was matched with service dog Ranger in 2005. Glen was injured at the age of 19 while at the University of Colorado while performing gymnastics on a trampoline. Glen learned about Ranger from a therapist at the Shepherd Center.

Hi my name is Glen and I would like to share a story with you that illustrates just how important a service dog can be to someone with a spinal cord injury. I’m a c5 quadriplegic, and I use an electric wheelchair to get around. 99 percent of the time my chair works great, but every now and then it will have an electronic glitch and leave me stranded. This happened about 6 weeks after I got my service dog “Ranger”. My wheelchair broke down in my kitchen and I didn’t have my phone to call for help. GCI had worked out a system with Ranger for such circumstances. I gave Ranger the “go get the phone!” command and he did just that. Ranger went and retrieved the phone for me and I was able to call for assistance. In the 2 years I have had Ranger, he has saved me from hours of being stranded alone on several occasions. Most of the time Ranger is my companion providing me with lots of unconditional doggy love, but I know he is always on call to help me get out of a jam. I have more peace of mind and more independence since Ranger has come into my life. Thanks GCI!

Please meet service dog team Jaque & Eddie Hall
17-year-old Jaque Hall from Oklahoma was referred to GCI by one of her therapists at the Shepherd Center, where she received treatment after a horrible automobile accident, which resulted in paraplegia. She received service dog Eddie in 2008.

Jaque: " I am the big high school senior this year. Thanks to Tim and Ramona and a ton of volunteers from GCI, we received Eddie while we were in Atlanta. His favorite spot is curled up around the foot pedals of my wheelchair. Having Eddie in my life is not just to help the burden of dropping and picking up. He does not just nudge the handicap buttons at stores. He is a mental pick me up every morning, and a comfort every night."

Please meet service dog team Kelley & Bettie Goddu
Kelley met GCI team Amy & Rebel Ewing while staying at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and applied for a service dog of her own shortly thereafter. Kelley was a competitive swimmer and lifeguard until a diving accident resulted in quadriplegia.
She received service dog Bettie in 2008.

Kelley recently told us of one of the wonderful differences Bettie has made in her life during a trip to her home in New Hampshire. She said that "usually the neighborhood kids are kind of afraid of me, but since I've had Bettie, they all gather around and feel comfortable talking to me and asking questions. I love it because they see Bettie and not my wheelchair." Service dogs provide such amazing benefits such as increased independence through assisting with daily activities, but perhaps their impact on social and emtional health is one of the most healing and life-changing!

Please meet skilled companion dog Charlie Jarrard
The Jarrards were referred to GCI by Liz Brown, O.T. to receive a working dog for 11-year-old A.J., who has cerebral palsy, and they were matched with Charlie in April 2008. Charlie is a skilled companion dog, meaning that he was trained to perform the traditional service dog skills to work in the home only. The entire family attended training camp, and each family member takes an active role in working with and caring for him..

Dear Ramona and Tim -

In the words of AJ (11) and Hope (8), Charlie is the "world's best dog." Our now-complete family unit is happy happy happy!

We were thrilled to learn in the Spring that you were considering us as a potential home for Charlie, and we showed up at training resolved to do our very best - even though we'd never had a dog and were a little daunted by the fact that he knew an entire language that was still foreign to us!! The kids brought their own notebooks and studied overnight to make sure they learned the commands as quickly as possible. Charlie cried for a few minutes as we settled down to bed the first night, which sent the kids into floods of guilty tears that they had "taken Charlie away from family." Those were the last of the tears from any of the "three" children. Charlie quickly formed a close relationship with all of us. Jimmy (Dad) is Alpha and Charlie follows him around in an ego-boosting haze of adoration. Hope is next in Alpha order. She most often feeds Charlie, brushes his teeth and engages him in near-constant conversation. Charlie is also learning to play dollhouse - "gentle!" - and is occasionally asked to model the hats Hope knits. We wonder if he feels over-qualified for such service?

Charlie is very solicitous when it comes to AJ, who has cerebral palsy. On his own volition, Charlie sits unders AJ feet at mealtimes and homework times, serving as a very warm footstool. He loves to get on the floor with AJ during exercise time and recently started nosing his way under AJ to push him upright from crouch to standing. As for me, Charlie is my walking buddy and the most eager face of greeting at the end of a long day at work.

Charlie has his own needs as well. He will NOT miss a school run and if there's a family wrestling match on the floor, he is in the pile up. Period. All 90 pounds of him loves to snuggle up for a back and belly scratch. He has learned to swim, mostly because he hated to be left out when the rest of us are in the water. He proficiently catches balls out of the air, and his very favorite days are when other dogs come to play. In his actions every day, Charlie makes us happy and reminds us of what's important. He is regal in his bearing. He is docile. He is patient. He is constant... in loving us , being happy to see us and showing us how much he cares about us. He provides a furry, cozy place for the kids to nestle, whether it's to watch television or sob out their troubles to him. He doesn't lose his temper or say things he regrets. He loves to have a job and is proud of himself when he runs through commands. He never fails to bring a smile. We are grateful for Charlie and grateful to you and all the volunteers at GCI for raising and training our beloved family member!

Sincerely, Michelle Jarrard





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