Service dogs working overtime as their humans stay home during coronavirus crisis


BOILING SPRINGS, S.C. (WSPA)–As more people stay at home, service dogs like those from the non-profit Canine Companions for Independence are working overtime.

Take Taj for example, who lives in Boiling Springs with his human Josh Steadings.

Steadings was involved in a car accident in 2015.

“I broke my neck at C5 and C6 and was paralyzed from the chest down,” Steadings said.

He spotted a service dog during his rehab.

“As soon as I saw it I was like I’ve got to have one,” Steadings said.

He and Taj have been together ever since.

“I’m really clumsy as far as dropping things out of my lap, and so Taj is always there to pick things up,” Steadings said.

Steadings is a teacher and is working from home like many others. He said Taj is still hard at work.

“It’s just more of the day to day things that he has to help me out with around the house since we’ve been here and not at school,” Steadings said.

Meanwhile in Orlando, the CCI training center has made adjustments as well. Trainer Robyn Bush is getting future service dogs like McCall ready for their jobs.

“Here it’s a different set-up that we’re just getting creative and seeing what we can work with because there’s so many options,” Bush said.

She too is working from home.

“So I’m trying to think of different ways to use what I have here in my house and what I can use to kind of expand some of the skills that the dogs know in a different set-up,” Bush said.

With about 400 people still waiting for their own McCall or Taj, the work must continue.

“Having that extra help there without having to ask another person to come help them is such a benefit for our clients to have,” Bush said.

For Steadings, it’s more than just having a helping paw. It’s having a friend with you during quarantine and beyond.

“There’s always that buddy there with you,” Steadings said.

Steadings, and Taj, want to remind everyone of the importance of staying at home during this pandemic.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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