It was a summer day like any other in Washington state in August of 2013. Annette and her husband, Wyatt, were driving in their van with their 13-month old granddaughter. Secure in her car seat behind Annette’s passenger seat, the trio was enjoying family time together.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the lives of three people were forever changed when a drunk driver rear ended them. Annette’s seat collapsed onto her granddaughter’s car seat. Then Annette’s head rammed into her granddaughter’s head causing severe injuries.
The little girl would remain unconscious for 12 hours. “We weren’t sure she would survive,” Annette said in a quiet voice. Wracked with guilt, it would take Annette four years to say that her granddaughter’s injuries were not her fault.
Fortunately, her granddaughter would fully recover and she would have no memory of that terrible day. But for Annette, “it’s a day my husband and I can’t forget. We cannot get those images out of our heads.”
She and Wyatt suffered neck and back injuries, deep bruising on their wrists, and internal bruising on their internal organs. The driver had no insurance and no driver’s license. Even after Annette’s insurance paid for their hospital expenses, the couple was left with $24,000 of medical debt.
Almost three years later, Annette still found it difficult to ride in a car. If she saw a fender bender, she would have a panic attack. A friend suggested she had PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. “I thought that only happened to soldiers,” she said.
Annette did some research and learned that victims of PTSD often are helped with service or therapy dogs. It just so happened that a friend of hers was fostering a six-month old German Shepherd puppy that she thought would be a good fit for Annette.
When Annette walked into her friend’s house, she sat down on the couch. The puppy immediately got up, jumped up on the couch, and looked directly into Annette’s eyes. “That was it,” she said with a smile. “I knew that Sherman was the one.”
Annette also noticed that Sherman’s right foot was slightly turned out, but she didn’t think anything of it at the time.
She took Sherman to puppy training classes at Petco, then later, adult dog training classes. Sherman excelled at all the classes. It was like he was born for it, as if those classes opened a door for Sherman, allowing a natural talent to bloom.
It wasn’t long before Annette realized how much those training classes had groomed Sherman for a larger role in life.
Whenever she felt anxious, she would call Sherman and rest her hand on his paw to ground herself. It didn’t take Sherman long to know before Annette when she felt anxious. He would come to her and lift his paw and place it on her knee.
“It was like he was saying, ‘You’re getting too anxious, mom. You need to take a deep breath,’” Annette told us.
But it wasn’t just Annette who benefited from Sherman’s compassionate nature. Sherman helped other victims of drunk drivers through Annette’s work with MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Annette has seen Sherman zero in on a little boy, who survived a car crash because of a hit and run drunk driver, playing with him, rolling over belly up, all while the little boy whispered secrets into his ear. (Sherman doesn’t do belly up for just anyone.)
Sherman has helped families in the courtroom who have to remain silent while evidence of wrongdoing is presented. For one father, seeing pictures of his son’s bicycle helmet buried into the grill of a van nearly had him in a blind fury.
Sherman calmly walked up to where the man was seated and offered his paw. Startled, the man reached out and stroked Sherman’s head, allowing him the time he needed to regain control. “Sherman knows who the victims are. He knows who needs him,” Annette said.
Annette also began to notice that the slight bend in Sherman’s foot had become more pronounced. So, she took him to the vet, who ruled out any previous break. He then referred her to Washington State University Veterinary Hospital. There, Sherman was diagnosed with Carpal Valgus Limb Deformity. No cause was ever determined. However, arthritis was forming in his elbow and wrist.
If left untreated, the disease would take over and amputation would be required. To fix the problem both the ulna and radius bones would have to be cut, pins inserted into them, then an external structure much like scaffolding would have to be created.
Then there would be a 12-week follow up. WSU will adjust the pins to straighten the bones, allowing for new bone growth. The surgery, as you can imagine, is very expensive.
Because Annette does not like to ask for help, she tried to raise the funds herself by selling items. She quickly learned though, that her efforts were not enough. Annette then set up a GoFundMe page and began seeking out other foundations for help. That’s when she found The Mosby Foundation.
In the meantime, Sherman kept working alongside Annette with MADD. At the end of a day, Annette would take him to the dog park to run and play. But even that proved too painful for Sherman. His leg hurt so much he began to snap at other animals.
For now, Sherman stays away from the dog park, and is on anti-inflammatories to help reduce the pain.
When Sherman’s application crossed The Mosby Foundation’s desk, we knew we wanted to help. This dog’s work with victims of drunk drivers was so important. How could we say no? The world needs Sherman’s natural talent for comfort and healing.
Annette was thrilled that we would help her. “I am so grateful to The Mosby Foundation for making this happen,” she told us. We encouraged her to also seek out other organizations to further cover the surgery’s expense, which she did.
We’re glad to say that other non-profits have joined in to help Sherman continue his work. His surgery has been scheduled for later this Fall. Annette is thrilled!
“This would not have happened without The Mosby Foundation’s substantial contribution,” a grateful Annette told us. We’re just happy to be part of the financial team that will allow Sherman to continue his very important job.
We know all too well that on any given day, any one of us could be riding along enjoying life, only to have tragedy strike. That’s why Sherman needs to be there, for the boy on his bicycle, for the father whose love is bound up in rage, and for all the victims who seek release and respond when a dog places his paw on their knee.