My name is Linda, I’m 63 years old and live in Citrus Springs, Citrus County Florida. I just moved there in July 2021 from Jacksonville FL and absolutely love my new slower laid-back urban lifestyle. When I first moved here, I had to have my fifth back surgery, so I got a late start at putting together my new home and exploring my community. I love to volunteer whenever I can find places that need help. I ran a food pantry for my church in Jacksonville and would love to find one to get involved with here. I love anything outdoors: Festivals, Dog Sports, Gardening, Scootering my dog, Arts and Crafts shows, Rodeos, if its outside I’m there.
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in my childhood after many doctors and a lot of hip pain and not walking. NIH in Bethesda MD (I grew up in Maryland) was able to get it somewhat under control, so I was able to walk again but always had pain. Later as an adult I than was diagnosed with adulthood Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoarthritis in every joint and spine. In addition, I have Fibromyalgia, Adult onsite Diabetes, Hypothyroidism and Other health issues.
My main disability other than Arthritis is my back. I have Degenerative Disc Disease and have had 5 back surgeries and 1 neck surgery. Two back & the Neck surgery were due to car accidents the rest due to the DDD. My back is now fused with rods and screws from the bottom to mid ribs. My last just July 2021 when I moved. The L4 and L5 totally collapsed on my Sciatic. They fixed the spine but my sciatic was majorly damage. I have no feeling in my right foot/Toes and pain up to my hip. Doctors don’t give much hope for improvement due to amount of damage on the nerve. I get around my day in a Power Wheelchair and Walker. Due to Saitic damage now I wear a AFO on my Right foot to my Knee.
My Current Service Dog, Zoe is my 3rd. She is a mobility dog trained by another organization to assist me in my daily life. She will by 10 this year and is slowing down. She can no longer (nor should she) perform all her tasks and will retire here with me soon.
My other 2 Service Dogs were Mobility Assist Dogs, trained by myself with the help of a trainer. I love Goofy personalities in my Service/Mobility Dogs. That keeps me going and makes me laugh, happy and keeps me on my toes. Plus, that’s the way I like to carry on with life, take is serious when I need to, but laugh and have fun as much as I can.
What my Service Dogs mean to me are FREEDOM. Without them I would not go out and enjoy life and all it has to offer. The duties they perform for me like picking up things I drop, opening doors (especially on my bad days), carrying things, getting items off selves, turning on/off lights, helping me dress and everyday simple things that nondisabled folks can do, but things I would have to always ask someone to do. For this reason, I would just stay home, because I want to be INDEPENDENT, I don’t want to always ask someone, and my Service Dog is there and makes me Whole. He or She is the Extension of my Arms and Legs.