Amy and I recently adopted a rescue dog. We lost our bulldog, Kodi, four years ago and Abbie, the schnauzer we inherited from my dad, about three years ago. After seeing ads from organizations like Stop the Suffering for puppies and adult dogs rescued from horrendous situations, we were hooked. While life is somewhat easier without pets (kind of like when our kiddos finally left the nest), it’s next to impossible to resist the soulful eyes and pitiful stories of these dogs who’ve been abandoned or kept in repulsive conditions. Plus, folks will often buy purebreds from breeders, but these rescues need a home.

For the folks I know who volunteer with animals, their work is really a labor of love.

Our client Michelle with her service dog ZimaOne of our dear clients is Michelle, whom Wilma calls “cutey patootie.” She was a volunteer coordinator for 4 Paws for Ability. While not the same as a rescue service, 4 Paws for Ability raises and trains service dogs. As part of her myriad duties, Michelle trained people and dogs, walked the dogs and cleaned up after them.

She had what she thought was a fairly minor injury when she rolled her ankle while walking a dog. By the next day, her ankle and calf were so swollen she couldn’t walk. She was put on crutches and in a boot for six weeks, followed by lots of physical therapy.

Her ankle and foot became hypersensitive, especially when exposed to heat and cold. Her foot would change color and become cold to the touch.

After nerve blocks and consultations with several specialists, her doctors determined she had developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). RSD is a painful condition that’s hard to treat and remarkably debilitating. While spinal stimulators and pain pumps may reduce symptoms somewhat, the condition often isn’t resolved. And claim costs are high as treatment is lifelong.

Michelle ultimately moved to Florida with her family, including her service dog, Zima, as the cold Ohio winters caused her excruciating pain. The warm weather and sunshine seem to help. Understandably, folks with RSD have to learn new ways to cope with the pain that now accompanies everyday life. This can be depressing, but Michelle has always worked hard at remaining upbeat and positive. And she does so with her beloved Zima by her side.

We’ve represented Michelle for many years. While it’s unlikely she’ll ever recover enough to return to work, she remains upbeat and celebrates life. Her sunny outlook is infectious! This gal, whom my mom would’ve said is “no bigger than a minute,” has a huge and wonderful heart. Our lives are better for knowing her!

James Monast
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Fighting for Ohio’s Injured Workers and their Families