International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations.

And although it’s IADW, with your support, Assistance Dogs can be celebrated all year. Your contributions made it possible for Service Dog Marea to be ready and waiting for Heather Bring, a working mom craving more independence. 

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Heather and Marea have been together since April’s Team Training where they bonded quickly. Heather has Ehlers- Danlos Syndrome so she needs help when standing, walking, balancing, -- and as she can no longer bend over – Marea picks up everything. (More on that in a bit!)

“We have been very busy since April,” Heather reports. ”But I also have days when we can’t be go, go, go. And Marea gets that. She knows I need time to recover. Learning the commands was the easy part – we are now living with each other’s language. That was hard at first, but now she understands what I need without my having to say something specific. We have our routine down and my son is part of that, too.” 

On Heather’s good days, she and Marea can be found at the nearby beach. Both work on behalf of Mystic Aquarium’s outreach program in educating the public about the necessity of keeping garbage away from the ocean and the fish who will die if they ingest it. This is where Marea’s retrieval skills are evident to all.

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“Marea is allowed to pick up the trash and always finds something interesting. The other day it was a lobster pot tag that we traced all the way to Nova Scotia.  I’ll be sitting at the booth handing out leaflets or talking with people, and Marea is having a great time doing the work,” Heather says. 

Having Marea with her, to assist with her physical needs, allows Heather to get out and be part of the community, and keeps her muscles from deteriorating further. 

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“But, the biggest part, having Marea keeps my mind off the pain,” Heather says. 

Heather wants those who donate to ECAD to know what a difference they have made in her life. “The entire process that ECAD goes through from start to finish instills in each dog a depth of abilities to help people with so many disabilities. Marea was trained so well that she met my every need. Thank you for my Marea.”

IADW honors and raises awareness for Service Dogs like Marea and the many benefits they bestow on their partners.  For ECAD, IADW also honors the donors who make Teams like Heather and Marea possible.

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