My name is Zack. I am an eleven year old boy with Cerebral Palsy. I am nonverbal although I can say some words in my own way. I use a wheelchair, oxygen, and am fed via a J-tube. I wanted a dog more than anything. My Mom finally said I could get a service dog. I waited for four years until NEADS had the right dog for me. It was worth the wait because they found the perfect dog for me. My dog Riley was raised in a prison pup program, my favorite show is “Cell Dogs”. Riley and I will both do just about anything for food, we like to eat. We also like to cuddle and watch Animal Planet on TV. Riley picks up things that are dropped, turns on lights, pushes the elevator call button, and opens automatic doors for me. He even understands when I give him the “nudge” command and when I call his name. That’s better then most people. He comes to check on me to make sure I am okay every time I cough. He gives me lots of kisses and shares his toys with me. Since I can’t take the toys from him he sometimes drops them in my mouth when I am laying down, as if I am another dog. Mom thinks that is gross, but I think it’s cool. About a month after we graduated I had to have spinal surgery. I was in and out of the hospital most of the summer. Riley and I missed each other while we were apart. On weekends Mom would bring Riley in to stay with me. He wanted to snuggle in bed with me, but that was against the rules. Some of the other kids in the hospital came to visit Riley and wanted to know why their rooms didn’t come with a dog. Since I got home from the hospital Riley and I have gone many places together. One of our favorite places to go is the movies. Our favorite movies are Spiderman 2 and Garfield. We also like to go to Petco. Every time we go there we try to convince Mom we need to bring home one of the cats that are visiting from the local cat shelter, but she always says no. We have a garden in the “Fens” and whenever we go there Riley likes to drink from the hose.
Riley is my best friend. Everyone thinks he is a cool dog and wishes they had one just like him. I am much happier and much more talkative since Riley has come into my life.