After waiting more than four years, Brianna Vail has received a life-changing partner, a service dog named Mabel. The pair graduated from the two-week Summit Assistance Dogs training program in Anacortes Nov. 11, and Mabel is now living with Brianna in her Woodinville home.
Brianna, 25, has a lung disease that impairs her breathing and limits her mobility, so she uses a wheelchair. Her vision and hearing are also affected, and she’s prone to falling. But this bubbly, outgoing young woman stays active, enjoying horseback riding, bowling and Special Olympics. Her life will be easier now with Mabel to help her get around safely, open doors, pick up dropped items, fetch an emergency phone, and give her unconditional love.
“We are learning more about each other each day. I can already see her eagerness to help me with tasks that I would have asked another person to do,” Brianna said.
Mabel also accompanies Brianna to her classes at the University of Washington, where she expects to graduate in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Community Psychology and a minor in Disability Studies. Then she plans to attend Western Oregon University, with Mabel at her side, to work on an advanced degree in Rehabilitation Mental Health Counseling with emphasis on working with the deaf.
“By then it will have been six years of chaos,” she said with a grin. Then she looks forward to a career helping others, just as Mabel is helping her.
Summit Assistance Dogs is a non-profit organization based on North Whidbey Island that creates life-changing partnerships between people and dogs, giving the gift of independence and increased self-reliance to people living with disabilities that impact their mobility. These highly-skilled service dogs assist Summit’s clients with daily tasks and partner with them to live life with renewed confidence. Learn more at www.summitdogs.org