Chris and Blue – A Story in Letters

Editor’s Note:  What follows are four letters Chris wrote to Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. One prior and three after being paired with Blue.

Chris McAllister’s Application Letter

Chris and BlueI have given considerable thought to the issue of a Service Dog – exactly how it would benefit me, in what capacities would having a specially trained dog be essential. It was an issue I addressed soon after coming home from the hospital. But I knew there would be improvements in my strength, my overall abilities, in striving towards my independence.

But now, nearly a year and a half have passed, and my need for a Service Dog has only been solidified. In my manual chair, picking things up off the floor was difficult, but possible; but now that I’m beginning to drive, I am mainly in my power chair, and picking things up from it is virtually impossible. And, I risk losing my balance, getting stuck with my head between my knees – very uncomfortable, extremely frustrating.

There are other issues. Since it is my goal to be independent, a Service Dog could be a means of security, not only in being a deterrent to would be burglars or robbers, but in emergency situations as well. Namely, situations that might arise in the night while I’m in bed, whether it be medical, a fire, etc. So, having a dog that is specially trained to retrieve, could help me not only in picking up things I drop on the floor or ground, but be capable of bringing me the phone in an emergency situation, while all the time providing me with an overall sense of security.

Finally, a specially trained dog would be a great companion that could keep me company in and out of the house, that could go with me wherever I go, giving me confidence and self-esteem in knowing I have not only a well behaved dog, but one that can help me in daily binds, a friend.

It is my hope to visit retirement homes, rehabilitation centers with my Service Dog, whether it be an educational demonstration, or simply for the therapeutic effects of petting an animal.

There are probably many instances I haven’t thought of, some that I have yet to encounter that would only strengthen my case for needing a Service Dog, but just know that I have given this much thought and would be very grateful in any help or advice in becoming a Service dog recipient.

Chris McAllister

After Receiving Blue

Well, Blue is finally here and adjusting very well. We’ve made great strides in just two weeks, both the bonding and training coming along wonderfully. Blue is really going to be a big help in my life; why already he has gotten me out of a couple of jams by picking up my keys and billfold.

He’s so happy, too and loves to play, and I’ve been outside more the last couple of weeks than I have in months…He really makes me happy, and knowing the things he will be able to do for me has made me so excited about the future, more confident on becoming so much more independent. This week, we’re going to start working on Blue alerting someone if I need help. And although this won’t happen overnight, it will.

The Texas Hearing & Service Dogs program is extraordinary, I thoroughly enjoyed the training process in Houston, and the information, support and caring are exemplary. I guess I just want to thank you Sheri, along with all your donors for making this possible. I can’t begin to tell you how happy, how grateful, and how indebted I am, and if there is any way I can help in promoting your program, your foundation, then you can count on it…

Thank you so much,
Chris McAllister

Two weeks after certification

Blue has been doing great. Oh, went to the park the other day. Not many people there at all. Well, I tried going down a little hill, but it was wet. I slid sideways, and dumped over–I was stuck, on the ground! I told Blue, “Get help, get help!”

And I didn’t see him after that. I was worried he might have run off, but I was more concerned about getting off the ground. Well, about five minutes later, there’s Blue, and a lady right behind! She said, she saw him just running in circles and he got her to follow him to me. She went off to find more help, and Blue just hung there with me. Quite embarrassing, but it gave me a lot of confidence in Blue, if not my driving skills!


Two months after certification

Well, the semester ends tomorrow, my best ever! Blue and I have been in second and fourth grade classrooms, movie theaters, several restaurants, libraries, boring night classes, and many other places I probably can’t think of.

This time last year I was pale-skinned, a recluse in my room; now I’m always out. Blue takes me to the park, on neighborhood walks, to movies, restaurants…We are inseparable, and it’s hard to think back now on when it wasn’t. Blue has given me a new leash on life (forgive the pun).

Just yesterday I was in the library and dropped a book, Blue went right on it, relentless, and put it right in my lap, and I just thought back–back to a time when that would happen, and I would have to seek someone out, not very dignifying.

But when Blue did that little task for me, he gave me a lot in return– he gave me dignity. If I had to put your program, the dedicated trainers, Blue into one word it would be — “Dignity.”

Thank you so much,
Chris McAllister