by Jessica Rownd
About the author:
Jessica Rownd has two boys: one with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and one without. She has become a great advocate in our community, blogging her life experiences and collaborating with many of our non-profits. To read more of Jessica’s blog about her family’s journey with Duchenne, please visit: https://www.laughingthrutears.com
Hi! My name is Wrigley.
I was born on November 5, 2016. I obviously didn’t know how much meaning my life would have at that time but wow what a life I am living now.
A few months after I was born I was brought to Mr. Joe in New York who started teaching me how to listen and obey all different kinds of commands. I was able to go into stores and school with him. He was previously a cop so he taught me how to stay by his side and be a good companion.
I wasn’t sure what my name was going to be, Mr. Joe was calling me Buddy then all of a sudden he started calling me Wrigley. He told me that the little boy I would be helping loved baseball and decided to name me after Wrigley field. I loved my new name. I would come every time Mr. Joe would call me.
After a year with Mr. Joe and Mrs. Nermina my new family came to pick me up. We met at the school Mr. Joe worked at. I couldn’t wait to meet them. My new family looked so happy when they saw me. The little boy ran up and I rubbed up against him over and over again. I knew I was going to have the best life with them.
I was still a puppy though, so even though my family thought they could fly home with me I wasn’t ready for that quite yet. So they loaded me up in their rental van and over the next 2 days we drove home to Louisiana. I loved them so much and I could feel how much they loved me as we curled up in the van together for hours.
When we got home I got to meet their awesome neighbors and their family. But like I said I was still a puppy and a very strong puppy at that. I was a little too strong for Wyatt to hold me and unfortunately I liked to check things out without him knowing and he couldn’t hold on to me.
So Wyatt’s parents found Ms. Kelly who said she could train me even more so I could help Wyatt and go to all the places Wyatt needed me to go….like school, doctor’s appointments, hotels and even fly with him in a plane. Ms. Kelly said I learned very quickly and about 7 months later I was able to join Wyatt and his family forever.
I remember hearing Wyatt’s parents talk and they were nervous that they would break me and that I wouldn’t remember all the good manners that Mr. Joe and Ms. Kelly taught me but that never happened.
Though they were nervous the first time to fly with me to Florida, I did great. I LOVE being on a plane. I know exactly where we sit and I go right to sleep because once we are on the plane there is nothing much for me to do til we get to our destination.
After being with Wyatt for almost a year he took me to school for the first time. He was in 6th grade. Everyone was nervous about it except for me. I was so happy to be with my boy all day because otherwise I sat at home waiting for him to come back from school. I miss him so much when he is gone.
School is so much fun. All of Wyatt’s teachers and friends love me. There were a few teachers in middle school who really made my time there special. Ms. Tess, Wyatt’s para, always made sure I had everything I needed during the day. Ms. Digirolamo, his 6th grade teacher, and Ms. Robichaux, Wyatt’s 7th grade teacher, always made me feel so loved and gave me special treatment and my own place to sit in the class.
Every once in a while I would get scared, actually I still do…like when the huge doors close, a fire alarm goes off, or even when a maintenance person comes to the door and shakes his keys but I realize that it isn’t anything to be scared of because no one wants to hurt or scare me.
We were at home for all of his 8th grade year because of the pandemic so we were both nervous but super excited to be back around people…no offense Mom you were a great teacher!
My boy is growing up so fast.
This year he started High School. I can’t believe how long we have been together. I love High School and Wyatt’s new para, Ms. Pitts. She is great.
We were a little nervous about a new person taking care of me at school but she has been wonderful. I jump out of the van in the morning and run up to her while Wyatt gets in his wheelchair and rolls out the van.
I feel so included at this school. The teachers and students love having me in class. Even though they are not supposed to pet me, Wyatt lets them…especially the girls. Mom says it’s ok because I am now so used to going to school I don’t get very distracted by the extra attention. (I actually love it!).
While at school I help Wyatt when he drops things and Mom was able to get electric doors put in so I just need to hit the button with my nose and the door opens for Wyatt.
Wyatt decided to join jROTC this year, he had no idea how life changing this class would be for him. He is so happy when he is in this class. His teacher Sgt. Lochern, has ensured that Wyatt and I feel included in the class. He even had a camouflage vest made for me to wear on uniform days. What an awesome experience of inclusion for Wyatt and myself.
I do want everyone to know that being a service dog is not easy. Especially on out of town doctor appointment trips. Those are times when I work from the time we get to the airport until we get back home.
Sometimes these trips last for days and days. I have to be on my best behavior when I am in the airport, plane, hotel and in the clinic. It is hard but it is my favorite time because I get to be with Wyatt 24 hours a day.
I also get so many compliments from people who have never met me before and have never seen such a well behaved service dog. My mom and Wyatt are always so proud of me on these days and give me lots of treats and love. When I get home I am so exhausted I go to sleep as soon as I can but the exhaustion is worth it.
I am now 5 years old and my boy is 15 years old. We love each other so much and neither of us can imagine not being at each other’s side. I hope I get to work with him for many many more years.
-Wrigley the Service Dog