Todd was born with hydrocephalus which causes his body to produce too much cerebral spinal fluid around his brain. The only treatment is a shunt to drain the fluid and he has had several since he was diagnosed at birth. Todd is married with 3 children and was enjoying a typical life! On Thanksgiving 2014 at some point during his 19th brain surgery to replace a falling shunt, he suffered a stroke After his stroke, the doctors said he would likely never walk again. The stroke also left him with very limited vision. He was unable to feed himself or eat solid foods. They suggested putting him in a nursing home because he would need 24/7 care. Well, Todd has proved them all wrong and has made extraordinary progress!!
Charlie, his service dog, has not only made his day to day life easier, he has become a great companion. Paws Giving Independence (PGI), a local area charity, trained Charlie, and placed him with Todd completely free of charge. Todd uses Charlie as a brace when walking. Charlie is able to do so many things that a walker or cane cannot do. Charlie guides him around obstacles, helps him go up and down stairs, stops at changes in elevation of the sidewalk, and stops or steps in front of him if he senses Todd is going to fall. At home, Charlie helps to pick up things he drops, turns lights on and off, opens the pantry door, and braces for him to get up easier. Charlie has given Todd such an amazing sense of independence and the confidence to go out in public! Paws Giving Independence has been such a blessing! Not only did they train this amazing dog, they provided a custom harness made specifically for Charlie and Todd at no cost! This harness alone was over $500.00, and was purchased with a grant to PGI from the Morton Community Foundation. Without the help of Paws Giving Independence and the Morton Community Foundation, Todd never would have been able to afford this service dog!