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Oklahoma woman finds independence through service dogs

A fundraiser at the Oklahoma City Boathouse District raised money for the Canine Companions of Independence, a national nonprofit organization that breeds, raises and trains assistance dogs.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: October 13, 2013

Ramsey started losing her hearing in 1990. She had a car accident in 1984 and was in a wheelchair off and on until 2003 when she started using the wheelchair permanently.

She'll always remember Gittinger. There's something special about your first assistance dog, she said. He died in 2006 after almost 10 years of service and five years of retirement.

Ramsey's next dog, Nero, was a golden retriever-Labrador mix. He was “the ultimate gentleman.”

Ramsey and Nero would do presentations at schools, and then she would turn him loose to play with the kids.

“He would find the child in the room that needed a companion, and nine times out of 10, the child was autistic,” she said.

“Dogs know. There's just something about them that, they know who needs you and who doesn't.”

Penela, a 6-year-old yellow lab, is her third dog. Each day, Penela helps Ramsey hear things that she might miss. For example, every morning, Penela is there to serve as an alarm clock.

At the grocery store, Penela might grab an item that Ramsey can't reach.

“It gives you confidence, it gives you independence,” Ramsey said.

“I don't have to depend on another human being to do something for me. She goes in and out of stores with me ... and people at Walmart are amazed that she carries bags for me. She'll get stuff off of a shelf ... It's amazing the different things these dogs can do.”

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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