Former Magee patient William “Buddy” Marshall recently visited the hospital with his parents and new furry partner, his service dog, Ellie. One of the goals of the trip was to have Ellie meet Kentucky, Magee’s facility dog. Buddy was first inspired to apply for his own service dog after meeting Magee’s late facility dog, Joey, while recovering from a spinal cord injury. As Kentucky’s facilitator, I knew meeting Ellie was going to be a special moment. She and Buddy are a perfect team.
Buddy applied for Ellie through America’s Vet Dogs while still in rehab at Magee in 2016. And it wasn’t until three months ago that they finally said, “We have a dog for you!” A trainer brought Ellie to Buddy’s home to meet him, and his parents say she instantly was drawn to him. Buddy and his parents participated in ten days of intense training with Ellie and her trainer, learning all of Ellie’s commands and how to care for her. Ellie is a three-year-old Labrador and Golden Retriever mix. She was professionally trained to do specific tasks for her person. Buddy lists some of her most important and valuable tasks:
- If there is an issue with Buddy’s ventilator, Ellie alerts Buddy’s family by pressing a button on the side of his power wheelchair that will set off an alarm in the house;
- She opens doors on command;
- Ellie provides immeasurable companionship and unconditional love.
Buddy and Ellie’s bond is growing every day. Ellie spends some time with Buddy on his bed before each day starts. He feeds her meals and treats via automatic food and treat dispensers. Buddy controls them through his smart phone via his head array. Buddy is continuously coming up with ways to work with Ellie more independently and become the best team they can be.
To learn more about the Facility Dog program at Magee, click here.
Top photo: Ellie (left) is Buddy’s service dog and Kentucky (right) works as Magee’s Facility Dog. They met for the first time earlier this month.