When Sharyn was younger she was as a fashion designer. She created garments for private labels that sold in department stores like JC Penney and Sears. She raised two sons and was always active.
Now, in her late 60s and battling severe arthritis, Sharyn has begun to slow down a bit. But, never one to give up, she works hard to stay mobile.
By her side is her constant companion, a service dog named Riley. The small, white, curly-haired dog is Sharyn’s “lifeline.” They spend each day together.
“I went to the shelter looking to find a big dog,” Sharyn says. “But when I walked in, this little dog grabbed my arm and did not let go. It was like she was telling me, ‘I choose you.’”
But Sharyn was not sure about this little dog. She decided to leave the rescue shelter that day without adopting. She had gone to find a big dog after all.
“I remember coming home and immediately panicking,” she says when thinking about the day she met Riley. “’What did I do? What if she’s gone?’ All of these thought rushed through my head.”
Luckily, for both Sharyn and Riley, the little dog was still available for adoption when she called the next day. A few days later Sharyn returned to the rescue shelter to bring her new friend home.
“I don’t know why anyone would give her up,” Sharyn says. “I feel blessed to have her.”
Riley now assists Sharyn as a heart attack and stroke alert animal. For a senior who lives alone, Riley could one day save Sharyn’s life.
“Riley keeps me going,” she says. “She is so special and, like all companion animals or service dogs, they bring your spirit back. They keep us young.”
Sharyn credits PAWS/LA for giving her and Riley the resources to continue their special relationship.
“PAWS/LA has been a wonderful help for Riley and me,” she says. “As a fixed-income senior, PAWS/LA has helped us with food for Riley as well as flea medication in the summer flea season. They are always available to answer questions and when possible to help with grooming and health care for Riley.”
What Sharyn loves the most about PAWS/LA is that after so many years it continues to preserve the human-animal bond.
“It is so wonderful to know there is a place like PAWS,” she says. “Thanks to PAWS/LA I am able to have and take care of Riley, who in turn really takes care of me.”