By SDI Graduate Shannon Martin
I would like to invite each of you to consider a gift to Service Dogs, Inc. (Texas Hearing and Service Dogs’ new name!!) This year is their 25th year! Amazing!
They have suggested a donation of $25.00 in celebration of 25 years! Cool idea!
Many many of you have met Noble, there are even those of you who know the difference he has made in my life firsthand! This is one of those causes where you can be certain that the money you send directly impacts the animals, the staff and the recipients.
One of the things that makes this place so very special, is that the Service Dogs and Hearing Dogs are placed in Texas homes at NO CHARGE to the recipient! Unheard of!
I contacted many organizations that are much bigger and wider known, there were two major differences. The first one was the expense to myself. The “fees” were tremendous!! All were around $40 to 45 THOUSAND!!! With NO follow up!
With Service Dogs, Inc. I paid my application fee of $25.00. Let me tell you what that $25.00 netted for me. A fully trained, amazing, loving and oh so smart Service Dog. Not only did they spend around 18 months training Noble, after adopting him from a shelter, having him neutered and checked for hip dysplasia, at their expense, they spent a full week, 5 long days, suffering my gazillion questions and training me to be Noble’s partner. Then, they moved Noble into my home. They, again at their expense, brought Noble from Dripping Springs (outside of Austin) to help me introduce him to my household. I’m not done yet!!
For the next 13 weeks, for one day a week, a trainer would arrive from the Austin area and train Noble and I in my home!! Still, we are working off of a $25.00 application fee. They have not asked for one penny more from me. Noble came to live with me on September 8th, 2006.
I am still on a first name basis with Noble’s trainers. I consider these people my friends. They have stood by Noble and me, supporting our partnership for the last 7 years. When I have a question, or there is a behavior from Noble, or myself, that interrupts the flow of our relationship, I have only to pick up the phone or send an email, just communicate to the trainers at Service Dogs, Inc. and they are there with answers, tips, advice.
NONE of the other places carries on a relationship like this with you. Once your training is complete and you purchase your Service Dog and return home, you are done and they are done with you. Anything else is additional expenses. Like the hot potato game we played as kids, you are dropped. BOOM! They don’t have the “resources” for that kind of support. Really?
These are the reasons I chose Service Dogs, Inc to begin with. From donations, and their own giving, they are still offering me support. One $25.00 application fee has really stretched further than I could have ever imagined.
I know, without a doubt, that if I had come to any one of you and told you that because of our vast, ongoing monthly medical expenses, I needed for you to help me with the $25.00 application fee. Each of you would have gladly given me the $25.00 and never thought twice about it. That is the kind of people, family and friends that you are. I know that I am amazingly and unendingly blessed by each of you. If you are able, would you consider a $25.00 donation? Tell them Noble sent you!
Noble is slowing down. When he came to live with me, he was 5. A little math tells you that he is now 12 years old. He is still attentive to my needs, at this point he anticipates some or most of them! Our relationship has blossomed, and he is my buddy. We are together 24/7/365! I have become a virtual shut-in, I go to the doctor, some family dinners and events, but other than that, I rarely leave home. It is simply too hard, too painful.
I KNOW that it is Noble who has carried me through, who has been as Christ to me on this journey. He has been a constant companion, he does not care if I am grumpy. He just digs his big ole head into my lap and lays his head on my knees and stares up at me as if to say, “You are breathing today, you are upright! So smile, God has not forsaken you! Put away the sadness and remember who you are. A child of the Most High God, created to worship and adore Him. You can’t adore Him when you are whining for your troubles!”
Even when I am really hurting and my tone of voice is rather mean, that great head comes to rest on my knees and those golden brown eyes look at me with love. Such a reflection of the love of God for His children. There is no doubt in my mind of the love of God being without end.
Although it is something I can hardly bring myself to think about, one day, in the not too far off future, Noble will have to retire. As I said, he tires easily, is beginning to have difficulty with his joints on some surfaces. Three times he has pulled a muscle on slippery tile floors. Therefore, I take him with me less and less. My heart is convinced that he will be my partner until the end of days. What I don’t tell my heart is that this simply is not so. Eventually, I will look to a new partner. I have no doubt that I will be, once again, well cared for by the loving individuals at Service Dogs, Inc. And, by the way, we are still under that one $25.00 application fee.
I love you all,
Shannon & Noble+