Bear Facts

Four legs, golden hair, and a little red vest

student introduces Lake Zurich to his service dog

James+Hunt%2C+senior%2C+poses+with+his+service+dog%2C+Livy.+Having+Livy+with+him+on+a+daily+basis+has+been+Hunt%27s+%22dream+come+true.%22
James Hunt, senior, poses with his service dog, Livy. Having Livy with him on a daily basis has been Hunt's

James Hunt, senior, poses with his service dog, Livy. Having Livy with him on a daily basis has been Hunt's "dream come true."

James Hunt, senior, poses with his service dog, Livy. Having Livy with him on a daily basis has been Hunt's "dream come true."

Meggie Furlong, Web Editor-in-Chief

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Walking through the halls is never easy, with the constant starting and stopping, lane switching, and occasional pushing. But one student parts the sea of students with his golden retriever.

James Hunt, a wheelchair bound senior, started the new school year with a new sidekick– his service dog, Livy.

“[She] makes my life a little easier. If my parents aren’t available to help me, I can just have the dog get whatever I need,” Hunt said.

Hunt received his service dog through Midamerica Service Dogs, a non for profit foundation.

“It’s not easy [to get a service dog]. They look for an animal and the person to click, to have a connection. He had worked with a different animal, which the trainer described as fine, but wasn’t great,” Pete Nadler, special education department head, said. “But then [James] met this dog and it was an ‘aha’ moment.”

Once James found a connection with Livy, she then finished her training before she could assist him full time. Midamerica Service Dogs training includes learning “to assist a disabled person with daily living skills such as picking up objects from the floor, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, acting as a brace and much more,” according to their website.

“This dog’s pretty smart. Most of these dogs have the ability to help you get up if you fall, but that doesn’t happen too often to me,” Hunt said. “She puts my breakfast away, she gets my shoes in the morning, she picks up stuff if it falls on the floor, she can turn the light off at night, the list just goes on and on and on.”

While Livy has been a tremendous help in Hunt’s daily life, she does come with her share of challenges, Hunt said.

“This dog is my responsibility and I’m the one who needs to take care of [her],” Hunt said. “It’s almost like having a child.”

Not only is caring for the dog Hunt’s responsibility, but the school is also accountable for easing Livy’s transition into Lake Zurich, Nadler said.

“I just depend on our awesome student body to realize that this is a tool for [James] to be as independent as possible. It’s not a puppy to play with,” Nadler said. “As much as we can do to that dog function in this building, the better. Address [James], not the dog. Don’t call the dog. Don’t make eye contact with the dog. Just as much as we can do to respect that [the dog] is a tool that is going to make that student an independent person, which is something a lot of us take for granted. As much as we can do to help that process, he’d appreciate.”

Now that the long process to find, train, and implement his service dog into his daily life, Hunt is thankful for this opportunity.

“This is a dream come true,” Hunt said. “I’ve been trying to get a dog for between two and five years, and when I found Midamerica [Service] Dogs, they all made this possible and I finally got my service dog.”

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About the Writer
Meggie Furlong, Web Editor-in-Chief
As a senior, Meggie is the Web Editor-in-Chief of Bear Facts Student Media. Previously, she was the Social Media Manager in charge of the staff Twitter and Facebook accounts and an in-depth story writer for the Spotlight section of the award winning print magazine. Outside of Bear Facts, Meggie is a member of the National Honor...
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Four legs, golden hair, and a little red vest