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From toddlers to veterans, six Hawaii residents have found a little help and guidance thanks to their four-legged companions.
One of the teams who recently graduated from service dog training on Maui involves a local girl who lost all four limbs while serving in the U.S. military.
It’s a relationship years in the making.
“We match dogs with their partners based on personality and Summer is such an intelligent, hard working and capable young woman that she reminds me of a human version of Trooper,” said Mo Mauer, of Assistance Dogs of Hawaii.
Summer, a 30 year old with two masters degree, was working for the Department of Defense in southeast Asia when she contracted bacterial meningitis and lost all four limbs.
After years in the hospital, Summer was matched with a trained companion from Assistance Dogs of Hawaii in Makawao. The pair recently underwent extensive training.
“It’s combined with written exams as well as practice exams where you learn about dog behavior and dog psychology and all the different commands and skills that your dog has,” Summer said.
Two-year-old Trooper knows over 100 commands to assist Summer with everyday activities.
“He also turns lights on and off, closes doors, opens doors,” Summer said.
The quadruple amputee says Trooper has helped her adapt to her new life and start a new job in Honolulu.
“Trooper has a very sweet and calm personality,” Summer said.
Trooper is one of six dogs who just graduated from service training on Maui.
Some of the other canines have been paired with children suffering from downs syndrome or cerebral palsy as well as war veterans.
“They do great work and these dogs are top quality dogs and it takes a lot to train them both financially and emotionally,” Summer said.
The nonprofit organization provides service dogs for the disabled for free.