Four years ago, Sharon’s life was dramatically changed by a young Hungarian Vizla. Rio is a service dog trained to handle diabetes. Sharon used to rely on a motorized chair for her mobility but, thanks to Rio, she’s able to walk again.
Rio’s early days with Sharon were a period of adjustment. Rio had to learn some manners. She would pull Sharon off balance whenever she saw a neighbor’s dog. Sharon had to teach Rio to stay with her no matter what. Even other pet owners needed some training! They adored Rio and often tried to give her treats. Sharon had to discourage them so that Rio would stay focused on her job.
Unfortunately, Rio has special dietary needs. She throws up when she eats regular dog food and needs expensive prescription food. When Sharon first got Rio, the light-colored dog with the build of a Labrador weighed only about 50 pounds. With the help of the right food, Rio returned to a healthy weight of 70 pounds. Thanks to Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, Sharon can afford the special food Rio requires.
Rio means everything to Sharon. She enables Sharon to go places that previously she couldn’t. The two go everywhere together, from her building’s laundry room to a pond a few blocks from where Sharon lives. If Rio senses anything is wrong, she’ll start to whine. Aside from Sharon’s health needs, the two have a strong bond. Rio stays close to Sharon 24 hours a day. Throughout my phone call with Sharon, Rio lay at her feet and listened intently with her head cocked. She knew that Sharon was talking about her!
Sadly, a few months ago, Rio got injured. Sharon was taking her outside to use the bathroom when Rio got away from her. Although Rio quickly returned to Sharon, it was after this that Rio developed a limp in one of her hind legs. When Sharon took Rio to the vet, x-rays revealed that Rio had a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Sharon is now trying to raise funds for surgery through a Go Fund Me page.
My thanks to Sharon, who kindly agreed to let me share her story. Every month, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors distributes an average of 3,000 pounds of food. When a client asks for a special needs diet or specific brand, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors does its best to oblige, even purchasing prescription pet food from veterinarians for recipients who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Sharon appreciates LAA’s support.
Lincoln Animal Ambassadors allows me to keep Rio. I couldn’t keep Rio without their help.–Sharon