Spirit the Service Dog

┬áHi, my name is Zita Kendall and I am the proud owner of Juel’s Blue Surprizin Spirit, a white German Shepherd Dog. Spirit is being trained to be my service dog. You see I am 44 years old and have a rare condition called Wilson’s Disease. What it is is my body is missing the enzyme that rids the body of excess copper and for 20 years that excess copper built up on my central nervous system until I totally short circuited. I could not walk,talk or even smile! I went on the man made enzyme and began a slow recovery. I can speak now, but can be difficult to understand. I walk, but my gait is disjointed and off balance, but boy do I smile a lot.

I’m married to a wonderful man, we have no children because the drugs caused miscarriages. We live out in the country and I own 2 horses that are physical therapy (riding a horse has kept me walking.) And I pride myself on my independence. Well I started falling, quite frequently, unable to get up by myself. My husband works 8 to 12 hours a day, and I would have to wait until he got home for the help I needed. I was afraid to do much of anything. Then I met Judy Grumdahl (through a local dog trainer and friend) and I began to live again. Thanks to Judy and Cathy Kishel I began my relationship with Spirit.

Spirit is being trained (by myself, Judy, Cathy and Marge to become my mobility dog, what that is is a dog that will wear a special support harness and she will steady me as I walk, stand and let me use her body to regain my feet if I do fall and to get help if I can’t get up. Spirit is 1 year old now and her training is going nicely. She goes every where that I go including grocery shopping, the clinic and she even joins me pool side for my weekly swim. She is very intelligent and extremely social, she loves everyone! I am known as “the dog lady” in our community because of Spirit and Kyla Raye.

Kyla is a 4 pound Chihuahua that I trained as an aspiration alert dog. My condition affects my ability to swallow and at times my throat will completely close, causing me to fall over if I am standing at the time. Kyla Raye can some how sense about a minute before it occurs and she alerts me by barking. She rides in a specially designed pouch in front of my chest.

- submitted by Zita Kendall

Webmaster’s note: In June of 2004, we lost a great person. Zita finally succumbed to her horrible disease. She is at peace now and watching over us.

Spirit is now helping another experience life to its fullest. Spirit now is a service dog for Peggy Novisky of MN.