RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Goose is never too far away from Bunny Sumner Young. The Great Dane has been her lifeline since their paths crossed at an Arizona Humane Society eight years ago.
“I rescued her, and then daily she rescues me,” Sumner Young says patting Goose’s head.
Goose is a cardiac assistance dog. She’s the second one Sumner Young has had over the years. Since age 11, Sumner Young has battled a condition that causes a rapid heart rate. Goose is tall enough to serve as a “walking cane” to keep Sumner Young steady on her feet. She is also trained to detect the sudden spikes.
“Far before I could ever sense that something’s wrong in my human brain, she knows that my heart rate is getting up and that I need to do something about it.”
Sumner Young explains that Goose can hear it, nudge her, get her cell phone and get help. Because of Goose, Sumner Young says she has been able to cut out six different prescriptions.
“My quality of life has improved significantly being six-legged rather than two-legged with lots of medications.”
Sumner Young is grateful to a healthcare provider who years ago recommended that she look into getting a service dog to help manage her heart condition and now lives the benefits of having Goose every day. Sumner Young just launched a nonprofit called Pawssible to give the gift to other patients.
“We wanted to provide people with resources to work with a trainer, hopefully rescue a dog from a local animal shelter and provide them with scholarships to train their own dogs,” Sumner Young explains.
She says there is typically a two-year waiting list for service dogs, and their average cost is $35,000. That is where Pawssible will come in to make more immediate matches and provide the training.
Education is also a big part of Pawssible’s mission. Sumner Young and Goose are spreading the word about how businesses and community organizations can better accommodate service dogs and the people who rely on them.
Sumner Young is now using her experience to better others’ lives one canine companion at a time.
Pawssible is accepting service dog scholarship applications and welcomes local shelters to be in touch with leads on dogs that would be suitable for training.
The community is also invited to the Pawssible Kibbles and Bids fundraiser on Sunday, July 26. It is taking place from 2 – 5 p.m. at Art Works, 320 Hull Street in Richmond.