My name is Carly Neis, I’m 28 years old and I have a disability called Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP is a brain injury that, in my case, occurred at birth. It greatly affects my ability to move, my coordination and my ability to process sensory information. I am a wheelchair user, but it doesn’t define who I am or slow me down, in-fact my wheelchair allows me to live a full life. I am actively living and pursuing my dreams within the community. I currently work, I am going to school full time, and am heavily involved in Edmonton’s theatre scene.
In 2014 I was given the greatest gift. After years on waitlists I was finally matched with my current mobility service dog, Oakley. What does a mobility dog do? She helps with tasks such as, fetching items, pushing automatic buttons, taking off various clothing items, laundry, open and closing doors. Anything that is physically impossible for me to do, Oakley is ready and waiting to help with! She has completely changed my quality of life for the better! On top of helping me conserve my physical energy, she has also greatly bettered my mental health.
Oakley is now almost 8 and I have worked with Oakley for the past 5 years. Service dogs generally work until they are between 9-10. That means that retirement is now something I must plan for. As much as I dread the day that she won’t be working with me, she has had a very fulfilling working like and deserves a long and happy retirement.
The process of training a new dog is a 2-year journey. I have done a complete review of all my options and have decided to move forward with Aspen Service Dogs, an accredited & licensed service dog training facility here in Edmonton. I have applied, been interviewed, and met a couple of current service dogs in training who will be ready in 9 months. Now that I’ve begun the process, the organization will start to match my specific needs to a specific dog. I know the easier route would have been to go back to Dogs with Wings who do all the fundraising for Oakley, but I wanted to ensure I had the best trained dog for the next 8 years. I specifically chose Aspen Service Dogs based on their breeding and training program. I feel this will give me the greatest chance at success with my new service dog. The only downside with my decision is now I’m responsible for the fundraising.
Here is a video of Gilmore, a mobility dog in training from Aspen, in school learning some tricks of the trade!
The cost associated with raising & training my new dog service dog is $30,000. I know this may seem like a lofty goal to some, but to me, my long-term success and independence, is well worth the effort. The one thing I’ve learned living with a disability is nothing is impossible. I whole-heartedly know this is an investment that will continuously benefit my future more than words can describe. Since receiving Oakley, I have been able to gain enough independence to move to a more accessible apartment, start a new job, and go back to school. Imagine how much more I could accomplish with my new dog! Having a service dog is essential to me leading a successful life, so I am asking you to help me reach my financial goal.
Last but not least, here are the wonderful Aspen dogs in training. They are next in line to become full-fledged mobility service dogs. I cannot wait for one of these brilliant dogs to join my family and help continue Oakley's legacy!
Meet Almond (Left) & Gilmore (Right)
Thank you for listening to my story, I’m hoping I can count on your support.
PS If you’d like to follow these incredible dogs as they get closer to graduation you can do so through Aspen Service Dogs on Facebook or Instagram. https://aspenservicedogs.com
PPS: Words cannot describe the special bond I have with Oakley, instead here's a song and dance number!
- Colleen Reed
- Barry Reid
- Catherine Wenschlag
Organizer and beneficiary