Katie and Krypton Go to School
Starting college is a huge step for anyone. Doing so in the midst of a pandemic is still more challenging. But what if taking steps, period, was one of your biggest challenges? Meet Katie Tact, a young woman with a newly found independence. Katie is in her first year of school at Washington College, along with her service dog, Krypton. Not only is it her first year in college: it is one of her first years ever to attend school in person.
Katie has Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). This causes lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat and fainting at times. It can make long hours away from home hard and often uncomfortable for Katie.
“Years back we actually started volunteering at an organization, Susquehanna Service Dogs that trains service dogs. And then I realized all the different things that service dogs could do, so I applied for one of my own,” Katie said.
Krypton is a Labrador Retriever. He is trained for medical response and mobility. The Susquehanna Service Dogs training facility matched Katie with Krypton. “They were very helpful and kind throughout the entire process,” Katie said.
Katie and Krypton joined forces in June of 2019. “The process can be long,” Katie said, remembering back to the long wait in the beginning to even be matched with a service dog. Katie explained that after matching with Krypton she went through two-and-a-half weeks of team training. During this time, Katie worked with professionals as well as Krypton, going over techniques and training guides.
Krypton’s daily tasks include picking things up off the floor. He carries objects and removes socks. Krypton can act as a support beam for Katie to help her keep balance. Katie’s condition makes some days worse than others, but Krypton does his part to make a difference. “Krypton is good for my general well-being. I don’t have to waste energy picking things up. I can save that energy for other tasks,” Katie said. “He’s also a companion during times I’m sick and unable to get up.”
Katie received a scholarship from CDK. “I found out about CDK after a girl I had met got a scholarship from CDK for her service dog, also from Susquehanna Service Dogs,” Katie said. The scholarship helped with Katie’s training. “It made a big difference to get that extra support,” Katie said.
Krypton has brought some big changes into Katie’s life. “Because of him, I am actually able to go to school, which I didn’t think was really possible before that,” Katie said. Before Katie and Krypton became a team, her day-to-day life was hard. “Before I got Krypton, I was in online classes in high school because I couldn’t physically go. And then after I got him, I started taking classes in person,” Katie said.
Katie’s future is bright. She is achieving goals that she once thought were impossible. With Krypton by her side, she continues her studies, determined to graduate and make the most of her life.
- Megan Waceken
Megan is a Professional Communication and Journalism student at University of Maine, Presque Isle (2020)