Lynn and Dutch: Courageous Friends, Precious Souls

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Dutch’s selfless service when caring for Lynn Hertel is inspiring. He knows when she needs to take her medicine, when she will fall ill and even when she’s spent too much time on the computer. But Dutch isn’t a doctor, physical therapist or nurse. Dutch is a companion of the highest heart: he is a service dog, one of hundreds of canines serving as essential companions assisting people with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Hertel came about getting Dutch as a result of having a brain tumor, which she survived. But removing the tumor caused damage to her brain and resulted in a traumatic brain injury. She had to go through extensive neurological rehab and somewhere along that process she was fortunate enough to meet a woman who had one of these dogs. The woman believed Hertel to be a good candidate for a service dog.

“I instantly started bawling because I have always had dogs and I had an 11 month puppy when I found out about my tumor and thus had had to find another home for it,” said Hertel. “I was overwhelmed about all of my new issues and to realize that there were dogs that were going to be able to help me maneuver through life with all of my handicaps – it was just extraordinary.”

The organization Canine Partners for Life is an excellent program. All kinds of people with a variety of issues receive dogs. Canine Partners for Life was founded in 1989 by Darlene Sullivan, a former special education instructor and animal trainer. Today, the organization has placed over 500 service and home companion dogs in 43 states.

In a broader stroke Dutch gives Hertel confidence and because of that she’s able to do things independently now that she wasn’t  able to do before. She is able to leave her comfort zone and re-integrate back into daily life because she can rely on Dutch’s able and loving assistance.

“He was my miracle,” Hertel said. “I always say he is my amazing grace – God sent him from above for this role.” Having a canine  partner goes beyond helping open doors, helping people walk, reminding them to take medication, it allows people to get out into the world, with this being who knows what’s going on with you better than yourself and they communicate that to you.

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