Ellie is a sweet little 8 year old girl with special needs due to mosaic Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome). She is full of life and extremely physically healthy despite this diagnosis, which is both wonderful and potentially dangerous. She has many of the same safety and sensory considerations that are usually associated with autism spectrum disorder: She is a “runner,” and does not fully understand the dangers of streets, parking lots, pools, etc. She is a very strong climber and has recently learned to unlock and open doors. This is not as much of a problem during the day, however Ellie sometimes gets out of bed in the middle of the night and plays for a while before deciding to wake us up. We’re so concerned that she will decide to try to go outside at night that one of us sleeps either with her or on the couch by the double deadbolt and chain locked door! Her sensory needs are profound. One of the therapists at her school said that Ellie is the most sensory-seeking child she had ever met. She loves anything that squishes down, swings, shakes, or spins her. Pressure, rocking on her hands and knees, and fidgeting with things between her fingers is very soothing to her when she’s overstimulated or panicking (at every single medical appointment she goes to).
We have been able to manage her behaviors and sensory needs so far, but she has reached the “No! Ellie do!” stage and has no appreciation for our efforts to ensure her safety. She has even started to sneak around and try to do things on her own without our seeing her! Her special needs may change some over time, but Ellie will always need extra help. She is obsessed with dogs, which makes a service animal the ideal way to give her a sense of independence while allowing us some peace of mind.
We went to Glad Wags, Inc. in Tulsa, OK, a couple of weeks ago to meet Phoenix, an Australian Shepherd who was already trained to be a level 5 service dog. Level 5 dogs are most often paired with people who need assistance with multiple (possibly complex) tasks on a daily basis
Ellie is not the typical recipient of a Level 5 dog, but after we emailed Marj the Dog Trainer our service dog inquiry with a description of Ellie’s safety and sensory needs, we received her reply within hours, “I may have a dog for you right now!” As it turns out, Phoenix had been returned because his desire to be as close as possible to his human was problematic for the original owner. He and Ellie will be like peas in a little tiny pod; she’s a top- notch space invader, too!
My name is Paul Broerman, I am 56 years old and was born with mild Cerebral Palsy. At the age of eleven, I developed Transverse Myelitis’ leaving me paraplegic. Eight years ago I wore out my shoulders. I am now effectively a quadriplegic and rely on a power chair. Recently, I met Marj Satterfield and Glad Wags, and was teamed with a service dog named Jet. Working with Jet has given me new hope in helping myself and others recognize the value of a service animal.
Hello Name is Katie McFarland I have PTSD and was so excited to find Glad Wags. Not only did they share my enthusiasm for training a retired racing greyhound as my service dog…Marj was with me by phone assisting me in testing “Cora” when I made the trip to Memphis to meet her. Cora is one of a dozen working Greyhounds as Service Dogs. Marj and the staff at Glad Wags have made my weekly drive from northwest Arkansas worth the trip! Cora has given me back my “life”
Braydon was born one day before his due date on October 3, 2006. His pregnancy was totally normal, uneventful, and wonderful! After I had not felt him move I decided, I needed to get to the hospital. Born just in time, Braydon had to be resuscitated, but he was alive. Due to his traumatic birth, Braydon suffered a severe stroke. The stroke had lasting effects on Braydon. He now has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and epilepsy. He is unable to eat and requires a feeding tube for nourishment. He also struggles with sleep, waking up about 10 to 20 times a night.
Braydon is a miracle and an absolute joy! His smile can brighten the darkest days! He is so tough and happy and rarely shows any negative emotions. We are so proud of Braydon and are so excited to get his dog, Charlie. I know they will be best buddies!
Carter, in July of 2006, was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes more commonly known as Type 1. His pancreas no longer produces beta cells needed to make insulin for his body to regulate his blood sugar. Due to type 1, Carter cannot live without artificial insulin. He wears an insulin pump 24 hours a day, checks his blood sugar 6-10 times a day, and has several shots a week to bring his blood sugar into “normal” ranges. Even though Carter has checked his blood sugar over 2920 times the past 8 years, he still struggles to detect when his blood sugar is “low” or “high”. When Carter goes low, he can have seizures and lose consciousness and when he is running “high”, he has a horrible headache, vomits, and feels extremely ill. If he is high for too long, there is damage to his body and he can go into diabetic ketosis (coma). As Carter grows low blood sugars at night can become very scary because he doesn’t recognize then while he is asleep. We have had a few terrifying nights with Carter’s blood sugar reaching down into the high teens. We are excited about Carter having a service dog. Dogs are incredibly sensitive to smells and can recognize drops and spikes in blood sugar before humans are aware.
Thank you Glad Wags and Autumn Rigsbee!!!
So I shouldn’t be amazed, but I am. Carter and I went to Tulsa to work with the dog training to be his service dog. Over the past several week…s we’ve been supplying the trainer with some of Carter’s smelly things as well as qtip swabs of his mouth recorded at various blood sugar levels. Once fully trained, the dog will be his 24/7 companion and notify him or others when his glucose levels are out of range. Last night, Carter checked his blood sugar at the beginning of class and it was normal (within range) at 116.
They worked hard together on commands, distractions and then they were just playing. The dog out of the blue kept going after Carters wrist and licking it. At first we thought it was just being playful. However the dog grew more persistent and it dawned on us that the dog was trying to alert Carter. Carter quickly checked his blood sugar and it was 76 and dropping. I was completely amazed as was the trainer.
Those are activities they didn’t expect to see him display for several more weeks or longer. I immediately had tons of respect and confidence in Carter’s new companion. BTW the dog is a beautiful Golden Retriever / Australian Shepard mix with long deep red hair. We needed to come up with a unique name to register him as a service dog. The trainer had been calling him Teddy and he reminds one of a Teddy Graham snack. So with Carter’s love for soccer he went for Teddy Graham Zusi.
Note: D.A.D. stands for Diabetic Alert Dog.
My name is Autumn. Kuma is my Diabetic Alert Service Dog for hypoglycemia. He has been trained to read low blood sugar levels whenever I dip below 70. More times than I can count has he let me know that I need to take care of myself to prevent disaster. Kuma provides other services for me as well. He has been taught to assist me up the steps (give me the extra umpf I don’t have myself), helps me up off the ground when I fall, as well as bracing to hold me steady when my sugars do drop before I get to where I am going and I get lightheaded. I am so thankful for Marj and her training for Kuma and helping me to have such a wonderful dog that brings me a piece of mind.
Glad Wags is a program under Ms. Abilities America. Sassy is our current title holder’s service dog, and was the first graduate from Glad Wags. Marj is the trainer of the Glad Wags dogs, and has been doing it for several years. Sassy was a dog that came from the Wal-Mart Parking lot. Elizabeth tried to train Sassy on her own, but was struggling to get Sassy to become the best service dog. Through frustration, Elizabeth reached out to find a program that would help get Sassy into becoming the best service dog possible. Sassy was showing many aggressive behaviors due to Elizabeth not understanding and knowing how to train Sassy. Thankfully, she came across Marj. Through many training sessions Sassy has become a service dog that is able to help with Elizabeth’s balancing (Elizabeth utilizes a wheelchair due to her paralysis, Spina Bifida, MS, Sarcoidosis, and Congestive Heart failure). Sassy also helps with Elizabeth knowing when her sugars are out of balance, she might have an asthma attack, and knowing when her heart is giving her troubles. Sassy also helps with Elizabeth’s spasms in her legs and back by adding pressure where needed rather sitting in her lap to decrease the spasms of the legs or adding pressure to her back to decrease the spasms in the back. Sassy also will alert Elizabeth is someone is coming up beside Elizabeth in her blind areas or when Elizabeth has a dizzy spell. Sassy has been able to go to help Elizabeth teach in a Public School classroom and also at Wal-Mart. Sassy is an amazing dog due to the training that Marj has provided to her.
I was diagnosed 12 years ago with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am also told by doctors that this is a permanent condition. Until about a year and a half ago I was completely unable to go out in public and making doctors appointments was traumatic. I had gotten Riley Dawg to train as a service Dog about 3 years ago to help me cope with my disorder. The first year and a half I went to various trainers for help in preparing him for his work. Not only was there no success in training him, he was completely miss trained for Service Dog Work. I had given up hope that he would ever be able to help me in public. I was so embarrassed to have him seen in public, his actions so inappropriate I would not take him with me when I needed to. I had given up hope he could be a Service Dog in public even though his work at home was invaluable. My therapists and a doctor told me of and recommended Glad Wags and Marj The Dog Trainer for my needs. After just one hour of evaluation Marj explained what Riley needed and what I would need to have a competent Service Dog. AT the time I was still unable to talk much less communicate well and was at a great disadvantage. The first six months of his training not only set Riley up for proper work and behavior, Marj completely reversed all the incorrect training I had followed. Today I can leave my home and go our without hesitation and confident Riley will do all that he needs to do to get me through it. I continue training with Marj to not only enhance Riley’s Service Dog work but have a goal of him being able to provide Search and Rescue services. Thanks to Marj and Glad Wags I have a True Service Dog Working that will not fail me the rest of his life. I thank God every time I go out for Marj in our lives and enabling all the needed changes for this to be a success.
When our daughter, Sarah was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, generalized anxiety and panic disorder, we began our search for ways to maintain her independence as a college student. In addition to getting her medical care and counseling, we learned the benefits of service dogs. As I pursued acquiring service dog for her, little did I know how daunting the task would be. I was told there would be at least a 6 month to 2 year wait and the cost could be upwards to $20,000.00. I was even told that only certain breeds could be utilized and that our existing dogs couldn’t remain in our household. In my heart, I knew that we couldn’t part with our 3 dog family members and my experience with training our own dogs told me that it couldn’t possibly take a full 2 years to train a low level service dog in spite of the responses I was getting. We didn’t need a dog to open doors or walk our daughter through traffic; some of the tasks we needed for service dogs for PTSD, depression and anxiety were to help reorient the person to reality, provide a calming presence and to apply pressure to the abdomen to help relieve anxiety. I knew that in addition, the dog had to be well trained in basic obedience, but knew this didn’t take 2 years. Some of the local service dog organizations wouldn’t even discuss this option with me and were downright rude. Enter Marj Satterfield of Glad Wags.
I found Marj through a chance encounter online and quickly emailed her with our story and our needs. She emailed me back within hours and I called her the next day. My tears of joy couldn’t be contained when I heard those magic words “I can help you and we can have a dog for Sarah within a few weeks.” By this point, we were desperate to find help to keep her in school and I knew a service dog was vital. We met with Marj and Sarah visited with 2 or 3 dogs to try to find the right fit but there just wasn’t a good emotional connection. While talking with her about options, such as going to the kill shelters to pick out a dog, which she often does, she asked what breed we would prefer. We already had an Australian Shepherd and knowing their intelligence, ease of training and their nickname as the Velcro dog, that was our suggestion. After a pause, Marj offered us one of her personal dogs who she had purchased as a puppy to show that had not grown large enough to meet the breed standard. Our shock was replaced with joy when Sage met Sarah and the love affair began. Sage moved into Sarah’s dorm room within a couple of weeks. As parents, my husband and I truly believe that but for Sage, Sarah might have taken her life.
Sage and Sarah are a real team now; we have only had Sage in our life for 7 months now but with continued training, Sage has learned new skills as needed. Sarah has recently been diagnosed with Narcolepsy and Cataplexy and Sage loves her newest task of waking Sarah up every morning. She has also, on her own without promoting or training by Sarah or Marj, began “herding” Sarah to the bed to take a nap when she is becoming irritable or appears excessively sleepy.
Sage accompanied Sarah and I to Las Vegas this summer where I attended a professional conference. Sage went through the TSA security checkpoint off leash and without even as much as a collar like a champ. She flew Southwest Airlines like it was an everyday event and even conquered the moving sidewalk in the Las Vegas Airport. The casinos were of no issue and even went to the Grand Canyon.
When we received Sage from Marj, she told us the cost of Sage but gave her to us without expecting a penny that day, with the statement of “pay me what you can, when you can, as you can.” This is not just a business but truly the calling of her heart to help those with disabilities. Last spring, our family organized a motorcycle poker run to raise money for Glad Wags and was able to pay off the balance we owed on Sage. Not everyone is that fortunate. Sarah has continued to work to find other organizations that will raise funds for Glad Wags to help fund other service dogs. Recently, a service organization she was part of while at school had a fund raiser and brought in $111.00. That’s a lot from poor college students!
Marj and Glad Wags continue to provide assistance to those with disabilities, often at Marj’s own personal expense. As a healthcare provider, I know professionally and personally the benefits a service dog can provide and have referred several people to Glad Wags. In October, Sarah, Sage and I will travel to Atlanta to attend a national conference on Narcolepsy. Hopefully, we will be able to share how vital Sage’s assistance is to Sarah’s health and well-being, thus helping others with narcolepsy.
Marj and Glad Wags have been a blessing to so many, including our family. Even after a few short months, we cannot imagine our lives without Sage in it. Sarah will tell you that Sage is better than any medicine and is a vital part of her healthcare. We have hope for Sarah’s future and Sage, Marj Satterfield and Glad Wags played a huge role that!!