Local Pictures
Classified Ads
 Announce Births
Email Us
Buy A Copy
Local Links

click here to
The Daily

web page consultants:
Servant Technologies


04-23-03: Teen gets a little help from friend
The Daily Standard
    St. MARYS - Jon Craft has his hands full coping with many life challenges but retrieving papers, pencils, books that may fall from his power chair are the responsibility of his recently acquired canine companion, Evien, a 2-year-old Labrador/Golden Re-triever mix.
    A 2002 graduate of Memorial High School in St. Marys, Craft, 19, attends two classes (English and abnormal psychology) at Wright State University-Lake Campus, which will help him toward his goal to become a counselor.
    Craft, a smiling, upbeat guy, has cerebral palsy, which limits his mobility and keeps him in his power-operated chair. But it doesn't limit his dream to help other people or his affection for his dog.
    Evien was raised and trained through Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization funded by private contributions.
    "We call her Evi, and we think her sponsor was the Evien water people, who put up the money for her training," said Jon's father, Ron, who added a fully trained service dog is worth about $10,000.
    Evi responds to about 50 commands and was paired with Jon Craft for two weeks of training at CCI's training center in Delaware, Ohio, last November. It was 14 days of intensive schooling including lectures, exams, practice and public outings.
    Jon Craft learned that dogs are pack animals and his duty is to learn to be Evi's alpha (or leader) dog. He also went through several hours of interviews to determine his needs and capabilities and what type dog would blend well with his challenges.
    Ron Craft said the puppy training, which is done in Kentucky, serves to categorize the dogs as to strengths and weaknesses.
    "Some pups don't do well with a wheelchair and some may not work out with a power chair," Ron Craft told The Daily Standard at his St. Marys home.
    Ability to focus is of prime importance as a service dog who may take it in his mind to suddenly chase a squirrel is ousted from the program and becomes a release dog; and, there's a long list of those who want a release dog.
    Evi, of course, doesn't have those attention problems. In fact, when she's working, she's all work.
    As the Crafts talked with the newspaper, Evi laid beside Jon's chair relaxed but at the ready. The family cat trooped back and forth trying to get up a game of chase with Evi, but the dog was on the job.
    "When we put on her service vest, she knows she's working and she stays right with Jon. When the vest comes off she knows there's playtime coming and she's ready," Jon Craft's mother, Margene, said.
    CCI dogs are free of charge to those who receive them and there's a waiting list of about two years.
    But, they're worth the wait because of the tremendous companionship a dog can provide. Companionship is the most important part of having a dog, Jon Craft said.
    But the dog also can do amazing things like pick up a pencil, a credit card or a piece of paper and return the item to "alpha dog."
    "Of course, that piece of paper could be a little soggy, so there could be some drying time," Margene Craft said.
    One retrieval that appeals particularly to men and boys is the TV remote.
    If Jon drops it, Evi picks it up in her mouth and drops it in his lap, then sits calmly beside him no matter what show he's got on the tube.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822