Canine companion

By By Sarah Campbell

By Sarah Campbell

In addition to the usual sitting, speaking and rolling over, U student Tim Daynes’ dog, Ehreth, also struts around campus turning lights on and off, pulling wheelchairs, picking up objects and even opening doors.

In fact, he immediately responds to 65 commands.

This golden retriever and yellow lab mix is the service dog of Daynes, who is working on his master’s degree in social work.

While attending East High School, Daynes had a passion for diving. In fact, he’d been a competitive swimmer since he was very young. However, while vacationing at Lake Powell at age 16, he executed a racing-style dive and hit an underwater sandbar in the process.

The dive left him paralyzed.

The doctors told Daynes that he’d never be able to walk or even feed himself again. This was a crushing blow to such an athletically inclined youth.

Daynes experienced a return from the paralysis in his arms and was thus able to regain feeling in some nerves in his upper body.

“He worked very hard to be able to use his arms again,” Daynes’ wife, Karen, said.

Upon his return to high school, Daynes discovered that his condition slammed one social door after another in his face. Suddenly his old friends were very uncomfortable around him.

His senior year of high school, Daynes ran for vice president using “Roll with Tim” as his campaign slogan. This humorous approach won him the election and he began to make new friends.

Before coming to the U, Daynes met one friend who has since left his life. He feels greatly indebted to his first service dog, Yaz.

“Having Yaz with me all the time made all the difference,” he said.

Daynes said Yaz “broke down barriers.” Strangers would start conversations by talking about their own pets. Suddenly, those social doors started opening for Daynes once again.

Daynes received Yaz through Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that raises these skilled service dogs for people who need help becoming more independent. Regaining his independence was important to Daynes, and Yaz helped him do that.

Becoming a service dog is a long and complex process involving obedience training and canine education. The dogs are trained to be the best possible companions they can be by agencies like Canine Companions.

After five years with Daynes, Yaz passed away.

“That was really sad,” Daynes said. “But when Yaz died, I was bumped up to the top of the waiting list [for a new service dog].”

Daynes went to Santa Rosa, Calif., where he was matched with Ehreth, his new service dog.

Daynes said Ehreth and Yaz were complete opposites in personality. Daynes said his new service dog is an overachiever who just loves to work.

Stories of people like Daynes who have been affected so positively by service dogs have been recorded by Patricia Dibsie in her book called Love Heels. The book also talks about the process the dogs go through to become canine companions. It has a forward by author Dean Koontz as well as a message from the company’s president, Jean Shultz.

In his forward, Koontz writes, “Canine Companions for Independence…brightens every corner where it operates and daily redeems our troubled world.”

There will be a book signing for this new book at the University Bookstore on January 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can meet Daynes and Ehreth at the signing.

Interested students can pick up a copy of Love Heels in the general books section of the bookstore.

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