Saved by July

July and Terry
July and Terry

Both Terry and I had never had a dog in our lifetimes, and quite frankly – we didn’t like them.  You could say that “we were not dog people.”

Several years ago we were at the Elks club, for lunch, in Aspen, Colorado with DAV (Disabled American Veterans).  There were two young golden labs there training with an organization called Canine Companions.  The trainers gave us a pamphlet about the organization, and I hung onto it for a couple of years until I decided to look into it.  Terry never thought we would be chosen because it’s a long, somewhat difficult, process so he was fine with me applying.  About three years later, when he was called because they had a dog for him, he wasn’t going to go.

July in the van, ready to help.
July in the van, ready to help.

I have almost always let Terry choose when to do make adaptive changes that have to do with the progression of MS on his body, but this time I dug my heels in and I was not taking “no” for an answer.  I knew this dog would be wonderful for him. Wowie, was he angry with me!!

Reluctantly, he went to Long Island to learn how to handle a service dog.  It was there that Terry’s life changed, for the better, when he met July.  He had a tough time the first week (taking care of himself in addition to the rigors of training sessions), so Jon and I went out the second week to help.  Terry was still extremely angry with me, but we (as a family) got to enjoy an amazing, busy, week of getting to know July.  Team July graduated in February, so  I figured Terry would thank me within three or four months.  He actually thanked me in our van the second week of training (even before graduation).   When we got July, that dog healed holes in us as individuals and as a family.

We have also become very close with July’s puppy raiser. What a job of love and patience they have!!  CCI gives the new team the choice to stay in touch with the puppy raisers.  I can’t imagine not keeping them in July’s life, and we too have gained tremendous friends.  We still talk to July about his “other mom”.  In fact, July’s full name has become “July Swain Travers.” We couldn’t imagine not having the Swain’s be a part of our family, and how better than to share their name with the a dog that touched their hearts as much as ours.

July, Terry and Caryl Swain
July, Terry and Caryl Swain


I will share a lot more about CCI and July in time, but I just had to introduce the VIP (Very Important Puppy) of our family.  You may also click on the banner to the right to learn more about Canine Companions for Independence.

6 thoughts on “Saved by July

  1. Jill — good page… for some reason I just got onto this… I knew you were doing the caregiving thing — but this is a great site… Hope you’re able to have a little time for ‘Jill’… remember — it’s always the caregiver who gets the most run down.

    Love to all of you my dear girl.
    Aunt Toots

  2. This brought tears to my eyes! In addition to the 3rd grader at our school that uses a service dog, Ashley’s college brings in therapy dogs during exam weeks. The students can go down to the library and hang with and love on the dogs. Ashley’s on a first name basis with them now, and they are the only bright spot in a grueling week of testing. There’s nothing more healing than the unconditional love of a dog!

    1. You said it best…”There’s nothing more healing than the unconditional love of a dog!” I would have LOVED to go love a dog during exam week. What a brilliant idea. When I get stressed out, my girlfriend will say “Go rub July’s ears.” They’re so soft and they do bring the stress level down by A LOT!!

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