Dan and Ginger Adamson weren’t prepared to lose their companion and friend KD of nine years but after a diagnosis of an inoperable cancerous tumor on her heart, they had to say good-bye to the Jack Russell terrier who’d loved them unconditionally while also having the ability to monitor Dan’s health.
Now they’re looking to the future after being told they couldn’t get another “service” dog for likely 5-9 years. Searching high and low they came across a trainer in Texas who was able to secure them a British Labrador. The name of the facility is Drey’s Alert Dogs and is located in Jasper, Texas. They mainly focus on training for autism, diabetes and down’s syndrome. But “Angelo” has special training that will help with Dan’s diabetes and his seizure disorder. The dog can detect changes in blood sugar levels quicker than a glucose meter as well as sense seizures before they occur, giving Dan valuable time to get somewhere safe and get help. Angelo will even be trained to call 911.
Drey's owner agreed to give the specialized training and reduced the price so that the $9000 raised for the Adamson’s through their church (Canton United Methodist Church) and the Lion’s Club of Ball Ground would cover the expenses.
Dan has put his life on the line for our country as both an Army Aviator and a federal officer for the Department of Defense. It was while he was working as an officer that he suffered his first heart attack. He was also serving in that capacity when he had his first stroke, ending his career and disabling him. Now Dan daily has to deal with the stress of Type II diabetes, seizures and long-term effects of strokes and heart disease including poor balance and short-term memory loss. He's had numerous surgeries, from heart to brain.
What’s most tangible to those coming in contact with the couple is their commitment to each other. Her patience and dedication to her husband is evident in each word she speaks of him and the love in her eyes. She openly admits it’s been hard since KD died and she has no choice but to leave Dan home alone while she works. Dan said,
“Ginger felt comfortable with her taking care of me.”
Living on a farm and making treks to check on their horses while she’s on the job is necessary for Dan but without a companion trained to help, she worries.
The Veteran’s Administration has assisted…although not to the capacity the Adamson’s need. They recently provided Dan with a wheelchair and a ramp to their Ball Ground, GA, home. While he doesn’t need a wheelchair at all times, for longer walks or days he’s weaker he does. The new wheelchair is equipped with an electronic control on the back so if Dan lost consciousness Ginger would be able to operate it. Even though they did secure an appropriate wheelchair, the VA’s stipulations for handicap van chairlifts state that unless you’re blind or have a loss of a limb you’re not eligible for a lift through them. They do have a lift they used in the past for a previous wheelchair but it will only lift 300 pounds. The new wheelchair alone is 320 pounds.
“This has all been hard. I lost my dog and the worry I’ve put on my wife over the years. It’s a lot,”
Dan admitted. It bothers him that Ginger worries while she’s working but knows it’s not unfounded. A service dog can be invaluable to someone like Dan. As an example, he explained one day he was going south on Highway 515 when KD alerted him he was on the verge of a seizure. By the time he got off the exit at Riverstone Parkway in Canton and pulled into a parking lot, KD was frantic. Dan called 911 and told them that KD was warning him and where he was. As he waited in the parking lot with KD in his lap comforting him, the seizure struck. Emergency personnel made the scene while he was still semi-lucid and able to gesture for them to call his wife before taking him to the hospital. In that case the seizure lasted three days. If it hadn’t been for KD’s training and his immediate action to pull to safety no one could predict what might’ve happened.
That worry of being alone can be addressed if they’re able to come up with enough funds to get the couple to Drey’s for a week’s training with Angelo. While Angelo himself and the training have been covered, travel expenses have not. With his high medication cost and she the only household member able to work they’re in a bind. They’re slated to travel to Texas mid-March. The costs involved are for lodging, car rental, gas and food while they get acclimated to Angelo, named so because it means “Angel," which is what he will be for the couple.
The Adamson’s admit their chance meeting with the Lions Club got them started on their way to peace of mind and securing another dog for Dan. Yet another chance meeting may help them get their travel expenses covered.
As this reporter sat eating breakfast at JD’s Country Cooking and Tavern Sunday the owner, Rhonda Owens stopped at the table. After introductions and a casual chat, I mentioned the Adamson’s situation to her only to watch her eyes light up. She said they have “Military Night” each Wednesday and she would like to approach them to see if they’d help with fundraising. She then mentioned the possibility of the Appalachian Guardian Angels Child Abuse Prevention Network, Inc., doing a charity motorcycle ride. Before the day ended Wendy Dunn, director of the group, had contacted FYN regarding bake sales, donation jars and having a fundraiser table set up at JD’s.
The fundraising efforts will begin Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. where there will be a table set up at JD’s to make donations and for additional information. Also starting Wednesday evening they will have baked goods for sale through Saturday. As weather permits, they will set up a table outside.
Saturday afternoon, the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association will be sponsoring a charity ride. The fun begins at JD’s at 1 with the ride starting at 2 p.m., ending at 4 p.m. back at JD’s where the party will continue until 11 p.m. There will be drawings and raffles. The cost for the bike ride is $20/bike and $5/passenger.
All proceeds will go towards the Adamson’s trip expenses. Please see the flyer below and make plans to attend one of the events to help out a local hero.