Man's Best Friend Helps a Teen Manage a Rare Disorder

A Dog in High School - A Great Partnership

By Marisa Russell

Most teens walk their school's halls without a thought, when the bell rings they get up out of their seat and head to the next class quickly. But for one Wisconsin High School teen, walking the halls is anything but easy. Three years ago Cole Freund was diagnosed with Cerebellar Ataxia, a neurological disorder that affects motor skills and balance, making it difficult for him to keep his balance.

Cole became very depressed and upset that he couldn't live like the rest of his friends and he began to distance himself, spending a lot of time at home.  Cole's mom Shelley said, "For the last two years he was in the house with us, hanging out with us all the time, not going anywhere." But after much persistence Shelley found the answer to Cole's problem. His mom found Heart, a service dog, who helps to steady Cole if he stumbles and is always around to make sure he is okay. Cole has quickly changed for the better and has made a best friend in the process.  He's back to spending time with his friends and his mom even says he has friends calling and Cole is finally getting out of the house.

Cole hopes to become a DNR warden after he graduates and feels he might not have gotten there without the help of Heart. According to experts there are around 387,000 service dogs in the United States that have helped to change lives just as Heart has done for Cole.

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