ASPEN & Sara Stelma
I am a graduate of the UNCW Assistance Dog Training Program. So far, I have trained with 5 successful Assistance Dogs that have gone on to change the lives of their clients for the better. ASPEN is the 6th dog I have worked with and it goes without saying that he has changed my life.
In 2012, I went through a bout of parvovirus B-19, otherwise known as "Fifths Disease". I didn't end up with the rash that is usually associated with Fifths Disease, but I have been left with Arthritis in all my joints, primarily in my hands and knees (a 15% chance of occurring). Due to the ever-changing weather of eastern North Carolina, I am usually in some form of pain, but choose to fight through to carry on a "normal" life. I also have been fighting through Major Depressive Disorder and Panic Disorder since I was 11 years old which makes interacting in crowded, public spaces a bit of a struggle.
ASPEN has definitely made my life much more bearable with his zany personality and fatherly concern over my moods. I thank everything I believe in that he chose me to be "his" person and I know together we can get through whatever life has in store for us.