By Dana Afana
Eastern Michigan University junior Courtney Bailey’s life changed four months ago when she received her new assistance dog, Rolo.
Bailey sought out Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit national organization providing assistance dogs free of charge for people with disabilities, after getting encouragement from her former high school adviser.
The 20-year-old was born with cerebral palsy, a condition of irregular development to the brain during infancy or early childhood, affecting body movement or muscle coordination, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
She said she went through some minor struggles growing up, especially in school, though she said she did not let it affect her life. She gets around on an electric wheelchair which she said was one of the first things people noticed about her and would talk about.
“Before Rolo, I wasn’t as open to do new things,” Bailey said. “I had to ask people to pick things up for me and I couldn’t do it by myself.”
She said she would drop items such as a TV remote more than once and her mother or staff members overlooking would remind her by saying “you dropped it again.”
When she considered getting an assistance dog, she had to send her family dog, Nicki, with her dad who is in Traverse City because she knew Nicki would have a difficult time with Rolo in the house.
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