It was back in the seventies when I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know the very first trained dog, a smallish black Labrador named Abdul. He belonged to Kerrill Knaus, a paraplegic. They were guests on my television program to show the many ways Abdul assisted his partner in things she couldn’t do for herself—turning on and off lights, picking up dropped objects, pushing elevator buttons, fetching items from the fridge—the list goes on. All things that we simply take for granted.
At this same time I met Bonnie Bergin who worked with Kerry in training Abdul. It was Bonnie’s dream to build a national program for these dogs—similar to those for dogs who lead the blind. It was a tough uphill battle with much initial opposition but today Dr. Bonnie Bergin’s dream has become an international reality.
At last, this fine book helps us realize what the term "service dog" really means, and appreciate the different worlds these animals have opened for their partners, physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially.
Abdul and Kerry were together for sixteen years and I am proud to say Kerry’s and my friendship continues. She has built her own organization, H.O.R.S.E.S.— Adaptive Riding Institute for the Physically Challenged. Abdul would be very proud to know all the good work he started.
Enjoy this good read and, thanks to Marcie and Melissa, the next time you see a wheelchair with a dog walking beside it you’ll know you are witnessing a true partnership in action.