• 68°

Woman raising money to train her service dog

By Rebecca Rider


MOUNT ULLA — Gina Bond needed a service dog, though she said it took her a while to realize it. The Mount Ulla resident was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1993, when she was in her 30s.

At the time, she ran a daycare, and said she began feeling like she was falling, and kept mixing up her students. An MRI revealed dark areas on her brain.

“Even I could look at it and know that it wasn’t right,” she said.

A short time later, Bond received an official diagnosis. But she said she can remember being 10 or 12 and being hit with terrible fatigue, which is often associated with the neurodegenerative disorder.

“You’re going about your day and everything’s fine,” she explained, “and suddenly it’s like you’ve run square into a wall. You can’t do any more.”

Over the years, the disease grew worse. Bond used a cane, a walker and said now she relies on a motorized scooter.

“It’s not going to get any better, let’s face it, it’s not going to get any better,” she said.

That’s when Bond stumbled across an article about service dogs trained to help people with MS — Bond said that until then, she didn’t know dogs could be trained to help with the disease, which can affect things like memory, vision and sense of balance.

But when she began looking into getting a service dog, she ran into two problems. The first was money. A trained service dog can cost upwards of $30,000.

“I didn’t seem to have quite that much money,” she said.

And getting a service dog would mean finding a new home for her 3-year-old boxer, Striker. But after some research, Bond came up with a solution — training Striker to be her service dog.

“Normally when you think of service dogs it’s shepherds and labs. But (Striker’s) tall enough and strong enough to do what he needs to do,” she said.

Not every dog is suited to be an MS service dog — they have to be strong and adaptive. Bond said an MS service dog will help their charges open and close doors, pick things up off the floor, provide stability and balance in the place of a cane or walker, help their charges up and down steps and help them stand up if they fall. Striker had what it took.

Finding someone to train him, however, was a different matter. Bond said several trainers expressed reluctance at homing a full-grown dog with puppies in training, citing liability issues. But she eventually tracked down a trainer, Glenn Sherill with Train, Play, Live in Rockwell. The total cost of training Striker comes out to approximately $7,500, and Bond has been doing it in pieces.

She raised money in the community by hosting a dinner, and was able to send Striker off to the first half of his training — an eight week stint with the trainer. Bond said she and her husband went to visit, and were surprised at the result.

Striker, normally an excited, hyper dog, was calm and collected.

“It was amazing,” she said.

He’s already helping out in small ways, but still needs to go back for specific training, Bond said. Training Striker to do specific tasks and registering him as an official service dog will cost approximately $2,500.

To help raise money, Bond is hosting a “big blowout” at Faith Park. Admission will be free, and the event will feature a free concert by local band Too Much Toney. Tickets to benefit Striker’s training will be sold for games and to enter a corn hole tournament.

“We’re going to have something, basically, for everybody,” she said.

The event will be July 16 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.



GOP elections board members resign over absentee settlement


Drive-by shooting injures 24-year-old Salisbury man


Highway Patrol: Vehicle fled after striking, killing pedestrian on Camp Road


Locals to be inducted into NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame


Fall fun, with a twist: Patterson Farm adjusts to guidelines, offers new version of traditional events


Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in ‘Brian’s Song’


Partners in learning passes last year’s special needs fashion show fundraiser with all-virtual event




Former history teacher to use ‘working knowledge of the issues’ in state House race


Chamber adds more than 50 new businesses during Total Resource Campaign


School board candidates for Salisbury seat split on consolidation


Virtually no internet: Rural NC families struggle with online access for school-age children


Horizons Unlimited taking learning to students this semester


NTSB: Pilot’s actions likely caused Earnhardt Jr. plane crash


2 Louisville officers shot amid Breonna Taylor protests


Seven new COVID-19 positives reported at Piedmont Correctional


Blotter: Police respond to shots fired call outside of Salisbury home


Rowan tied for fifth among counties for most COVID-19 deaths


‘Nudge from God’: 10 years after diagnosis, Rockwell man to receive kidney from live donor


Salisbury police warn residents after increased trailer thefts


Elon heightens alert as 32 test positive; Wake Forest in good shape to continue instruction as is


Corn picker catches fire at Knox Farm, destroying nearly eight acres


House easily passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown


Supreme Court vacancy looms large in 2nd NC Senate debate