Hello – I am Elizabeth Riggs. I was in the first PAALS class – and again in the 2015 class. I can’t begin to tell you how important PAALS is in my life – and the lives of all members of my family.
I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, both of which limit mobility and cause intense fatigue and pain. I first realized I needed a service dog when I was crossing a large, empty atrium in an office tower. I dropped my cane. I was not near a wall to lean against and stood in misery and fear for 10 minutes until a nice gentleman came by and picked up my cane for me. That night I began to search for service dog providers in a reasonable distance from us. PAALS came to our rescue with Emmy!
Emmy, my first mobility service dog, was a breakthrough for me. I was amazed at the difference she made. Because of Emmy I was able to continue walking long enough to continue my career for 4 additional years. She helped me keep clothes and linens clean by helping with the laundry. She picked up numerous items daily – amazing people at the grocery store! When I had to ask to retire Emmy it was all I could do to keep from crying. This was important – because had I let myself start crying, I might not have been able to stop.
Jennifer Rogers, the CEO of PAALS, said there *would* be another dog for me. And, sure enough, a year later, I met Warrior! He is not Emmy. But he is a superb mobility service dog – and LOVES to do the laundry! He LOVES to retrieve things I drop (after all, he IS a Labrador RETRIEVER!). He also LOVES to go to the grocery and pick up little boxes or potato chip bags off the floor when I drop them. He helps me balance when I’m walking, and trots alongside my mobility scooter very happily when I go places.
PAALS has always been there for their clients. If problems arise, they help fix them – even to the point of going to the clients’ homes and working with them to solve the problems.
The people at PAALS have been nothing short of supportive. They love their work, they love their dogs, and they love their clients. Every successful service dog partnership gives them a real positive charge. I am so fortunate to have been one of their first 3 clients – and now even more fortunate to still be a client with my second PAALS dog.
If I had a million dollars, I would give it to PAALS because of the kind of work they do. They restore function – as Emmy and Warrior have done for me. They restored my self-esteem. They restore a sense of normality to the lives of broken people – like me.
Elizabeth Riggs and Warrior the Wonder Dog!