CASSIDY’S COLUMN: Meet ‘Pepper,’ my new Service Dog!


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EDITOR’S NOTE: Cass Huff is a special needs student at Mt. Rainier High School. In 2016, she was named “Citizen of the Year” by the City of Burien.

Hey B-Town readers!

I know I say this every time I write a blog, but I’m so sorry it’s been so long! Life has been busy!

I will later write a blog about the fun events that have been happening in my life. But for this blog, I need YOUR help!

I have been wanting a service dog for awhile now. But my family and I recently came to the conclusion that it would actually be beneficial to my independence. We decided to go through an organization called Brigadoon Service Dogs. They have helped a couple people that I know get their service dogs.

I did the whole application process by myself, including all the paperwork and the deposit. I was accepted into the program and they started to look over the dogs they had and see which one might be a match for me.

After a couple of months, last week I was able to have a meet and greet with two dogs! They placed my mom, my sister and I into this big open room and they brought one of the dogs in. My mom and sister were instructed not to touch, play with, or instruct the dog. Because this was all based on my connection with the dog.

The first dog they brought in was a great dog. But I didn’t feel a strong connection with him. He didn’t really seem to pay attention to me or want to play with me or anything.

They took him out and brought in a dog called Pepper. The first thing Pepper did when he saw me was jump and put his two front paws in my lap and lick my face. (I was in my wheelchair with my brakes unlocked, so this didn’t work very well for either of us.) He brought toys and set them in my lap, he followed (almost) all of his commands without question. Needless to say, I felt like he was my dog.

They took Pepper out and we talked with the director and founder of the program. I told her that Pepper was my dog and she agreed. She explained that he was still a puppy, because he’s only a year and a half. So he still needs to go through more training over these next couple of months. I also need to go through a two week training program, this means that I will have to live in Bellingham with my mom for two weeks. As most of you know, I now live in Des Moines. So Bellingham is roughly a two and a half hour drive. So we will have to pay for a hotel, food, etc.

I’ve gotten some questions about what Pepper will be able to do for me. He will be able to pull my wheelchair, pick things up off the floor for me, help me off the floor when I fall, press automatic door buttons, he will help me walk longer distances, get up and down stairs when there’s no handrail, support me in large crowds of people when I’m often overlooked because people think that I’m a little kid, and so much more.

He will need a special harness to be able to pull my wheelchair as well as to support me walking. This harness costs approximately $500, the cost of Pepper (about $10,000), hotel and food for my mom and I for two weeks (you can imagine how much that costs), and pet insurance. All of this added up gets close to $15,000.

That’s a lot of money! That’s why I need YOUR help!! Anything you have can help me and Pepper start our journey. And if you can’t contribute financially, you can always help by sharing this post or my other posts on my social media (username will be left below)!

Thank you guys so much for reading! And I will see y’all next time!

– Cass

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