We take care of our pets but a lot of the time our pets are the ones taking care of us, especially if they're a service animal.
North East resident Krystal Greco and her service dog “Teddie” have been together for the last three years.
In 2010, Greco suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down when a disk ruptured in her back, and it wasn't until she met Teddie that she was able to get her independence back. Teddie is now being recognized for her excellent work as Greco’s partner.
“I wouldn't go out in public by myself, I didn't feel confident, I felt very insecure in myself,” Greco said. “I required someone to be there with me 24/7 in case something happened, in case there was something on the floor that I couldn't reach, or if there was something going wrong.”
But in 2013, two days after she graduated high school, Canine Partners For Life matched her with Teddie. Teddie opens doors and opportunities for Greco.
“I am driving independently. I know that Teddie will be there in case I need help with something, she can pick things up off the floor, open and close doors for me, she helps me with my shoes, she alerts me to when my blood pressure's getting ready to change, and she can tell me when I'm getting ready to have a nasty migraine, so that I can take some medication for it or get to a safe place,” she said.
Greco now works at Cecil College and just graduated with three associate's degrees. Her furry companion is also doing big things.
Last week, the two traveled to Orlando where Teddie was awarded the American Kennel Club Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence in the service dog category.
“To have her recognized by such a large organization, it just makes me feel like now I get to share with everybody how special she is,” Greco said.
Teddie has changed her life as well as the way she's perceived.
“So instead of that little kid being like, ‘Mommy, why is that girl in a chair?' It's now, 'Mommy, look there's a dog in the supermarket,'” Greco said.
Beyond a service dog, Teddie is her best friend.
“She's just an awesome, awesome companion and I can't ask for a better partner,” Greco said.
Greco and Teddie also travel to speak on behalf of Canine Partners for Life. She recommends anyone in a similar situation seek out a service dog. However, it typically takes six months to two years to be partnered so her advice is to be patient, to have faith, and to look forward to your life changing for the better.