The four-legged heroes of the Ability Center

The four-legged heroes of the Ability Center
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – The Ability Center of Greater Toledo has been helping improve the lives of people with disabilities for 100 years. One of the many ways the organization does this is through its assistance dog program. September is National Assistance Dog Month.

The pandemic has of course changed the schedule, but the need for specially trained animals hasn’t slowed down a bit. The dogs spent about two years training. The training must have been done practically for a while. However, face-to-face sessions with safety protocols started again.

This program has changed the lives of so many people, including breeders who dedicate countless hours to dogs. Karin Johnstone has been a foster family for a few years.

“Part of your heart is with the dog, but the reward is seeing how he makes a difference in someone’s life. It has been a wonderful experience. It is a community. I made some great friends. We work with each other and together. It’s fantastic. It added a dimension to my life that I didn’t know was missing or needed, ”says Johnstone.

One of the many four-legged heroes to drop out of the program is Ginny. For the past year, she has been a real lifeline for Tom Dussel and his wife Sherry. The three-year-old Lab / Retriever mix can bring his clothes to Tom in the morning, pick up things he drops, and she sometimes helps him up by pulling him up.

“She is always very happy to help. I think she gets up in the morning thinking about what she can do for me. Ginny is the best dog we’ve ever had. She loves everyone and everything. She loves to train, but she also loves to play. The Fitness Center has done so many wonderful things over the years for so many people. I think adding the assistance dog program is one of the best things they’ve ever done, ”said Dussel.

Some of the dogs are trained by inmates at the Gus Harrison Correctional Center in Adrian. This has been suspended due to the pandemic. There is therefore a growing need for encouragement.

If you would like to learn more about the Assistance Dog Program or any other service of The Ability Center, log on to

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