About three years ago, Sherrill Cook adopted a Saint Bernard. Her four sons welcomed Teddy to the family – but he was Sherrill’s dog. She is largely confined to a wheelchair and he is a service animal.
“He pulls my wheelchair. If I am standing and start to fall, he will push me up against something and brace me all on his own. Teddy is tuned in to my heart rate and talks to me when it gets up to 120.” How does he do that? “I don’t know. I had an asthma attack once and they couldn’t get my heart rate under control. It was sky-rocketing and they sent me home anyway. Teddy just sat there and talked to me.” Can he see a physical change? “I think he can sense it. He’s really in tune with me. He knows when something is off. He is alert to an anxiety attack. And he wears a harness that I can use for balance.
In January, 2013, Sherrill and her husband, Jeremy, took Teddy to a dog park near their Thousand Oaks home “so he could relax and be a dog. He was running around and he went down and blew out his knee.”
The Cooks took Teddy to Tustin Santa Ana Veterinary Hospital, not far from the agency where they had adopted him. Laura Weatherford, DVM, performed surgery for a partial tear in Teddy’s Anterior Cruciate Ligament. “She is really great,” Sherrill said. “She works with you and she explains everything really well.”
Jeremy Cook is a computer engineer. But the family was “living paycheck to paycheck and we were really short of money at the time of the surgery, Sherrill said. The Cooks applied for help from Angel Fund. “It worked really well. We’ve just been really blessed,” she said. Angel Fund contributed $500 to Teddy’s bill and so did the hospital.
Teddy was in the hospital four days and then had to be confined to a kennel at the Cooks’ home for eight weeks. Then he resumed his duties as Sherrill chief companion and helpmate.
But Teddy, who just turned four, “blew out his other knee chasing a cat in the backyard” and needs surgery again. This time, Sherrill said, she will pay for the operation with funds from an inheritance she is getting from her late father. She will get around, in the meantime, with help from her husband and sons.