A simple gesture can make a world of difference in someone’s life

The following story was submitted by Sherrie Handspiker of Dartmouth, N.S.
Last year my husband developed epilepsy on top of the mental-health issues he’d been battling. Dale became fearful of going anywhere alone or of being alone as some of his seizures were quite severe, even putting him in the hospital on three separate occasions.
We decided that a trained medical service dog would greatly help Dale. It would be a companion for Dale, and with her “service dog” vest on, the dog would be able to go everywhere he did. The dog would be trained to stay with him if he had a seizure, either laying beside him or standing over him. With a service dog beside a downed person, others see he has a medical issue and will be more apt to help.
A local person sold us a purebred black Labrador retriever at a reduced price in April. Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) was eight weeks old when we got her. At that point, we turned to the local papers for help. We hoped that getting Dale’s story out would help raise funds to pay for the puppy’s training. Dale has been on disability, and his need to have someone with him at all times means I’m not working either. That means we don’t have a lot of money left over at the end of the month.
Fundraising started off with the help of family donations, but we had a long way to go. Then one day there was a knock at the door. Dale was having a nap, so I went to answer it. As I looked out, a stranger stood there holding the newspaper article about Dale in her hand. She introduced herself as June and told me that her daughter’s dog had alerted her to a cancer she never knew she had, probably saving her life. Now, she felt compelled to help our dog because a dog had helped her. She shocked us when she gave us $100! We never expected such caring and kindness from a complete stranger.
Dale had been feeling the world didn’t care, but this helped renew his faith. He didn’t feel so alone anymore. And because he so desperately missed work, participating in Nevaeh’s training gave him purpose.
The next thing that happened was that Dale emailed local vets asking for care for our puppy. We received a response from Dr. Noonan at the Woodlawn Veterinary Clinic, who has since provided Nevaeh’s care for free. The staff and the vet are the most loving, caring people we have met. They even helped us find a local trainer who cut the training costs by more than half. If it weren’t for such amazing people, Dale probably would have become a total recluse—feeling he could never go anywhere alone.