Patience Paid Off By Sarah Schaff


If you hear ‘Mobility Assist Dog’, you might assume the dog helps their handler move. However, for Mike Rowley of Eagan, Minnesota, an assistance dog means the ability to stand still anywhere and anytime.

Mike has a form of muscular dystrophy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome, meaning the tendons in his legs and hands are shortened, making his leg muscles fatigue quickly.

While Mike can walk without adaptive equipment, his main struggle is balance and coordination which puts him at a high risk of falling.

His hope when applying for an assistance dog was to “be able to stand and talk with someone without feeling like I’m going to fall,” says Mike.

Mike is a tall man, so the wait for a height-appropriate dog that could support him would be longer than for other clients. In addition to requiring a tall dog, Mike’s son has allergies and needed a hypoallergenic dog, further increasing the wait.

Mike’s patience paid off in the form of a statuesque Standard Poodle named Felix. Felix is happy to learn and work, but his remarkable skill is walking with a steady pace—an ideal trait for stability assistance.

Mike waited almost two years from his initial application interview until the start of team training, but to have the freedom of movement was worth every moment.

Felix is equipped with a hard-handle harness that helps keep Mike upright when he stops, as well as a soft handle that acts as a counter balance which keeps Mike moving over uneven terrain. Felix is getting Mike out and about, which was previously impossible.

Along with enabling Mike to ambulate freely and safely, Felix’s skills extend to retrieves and tugs which further prevent falls. The eager Poodle helps open doors, retrieve dropped items, pick up his leash, and tug a laundry basket up and down the stairs so Mike can use the handrails.

He is a fantastic companion and Mike is emphatically grateful to all who were involved with the journey that brought Felix into his life.

Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:

Puppy Raiser: Kristin & Eric Alman

Special Thanks: The inmate handlers at FCI Sandstone



This article touched my soul!   I too have mobility issues and use my Blue Dobie Bella to assist me in ambulation.   I can’t imagine what my life would have been without her.   When she was a pup I used a cane or walker when I moved around.   I hated the fact that I needed these ambulation assists at my age.  My knees were replaced but my back and leg muscles were not sufficiently strong to keep me on my feet.    Although I am doing much better now  I still need to have Bella assist me in climbing up stairs and up curbs.    She is my angel.  The bond between a service dog and its handler is an amazing experience,     It goes much farther then pet parent and pup.  (even though most of us love our pets like family).

September is National Service Dog Month, so if you have a service dog or know someone who has one, make sure that you give that pup the recognition that they deserve.. They are amazing animals

.Don’t forget to check out the banner/links to the various on line stores to the right of this page  (lap top) or beneath the article (smart phone).  There are traditional pet stores as well as well as  specialty stores for gifts that would make any pet parent ecstatic!  There is also a link to Amazon and Walmart where you can purchase anything that they sell.   Purchases through these links help me keep this site up and running.

Your assistance in this area would be greatly appreciated    And don’t forget to leave a comment so I can tell if  i am meeting your needs.   Your fur babies are important  family members.   Make sure you share your love with them each and every day!


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