Catherine and Reilly

AMHERST, NH (August 1, 2018) – Catherine (Smith) Marra of Atkinson, N.H., credits her dog, Reilly, with saving her life. But first he gave her the will to fight for her life. Now Reilly, a senior Irish Setter with advanced arthritis needs special care, and Catherine gives it readily. Special supplements and a dog wheelchair for the beloved canine are a small price to pay for what he’s given her.

Catherine was living in England with Reilly, two other Setters, and her husband when she became ill with a neurological disorder. She was eventually hospitalized for four months and was then told by her neurologist that she had about one week to live. At that point, her husband and father, who knew how much she missed her dogs, bundled Catherine into a wheelchair and took her to a back passage of the hospital. Then they opened the outside doors, and one by one, each of her three Setters came bounding over. When Reilly came up to Catherine, he leaned his head into her face. Catherine recounts how the warmth and energy from his face came into hers and gave her the will to fight, to fight for her life. That was four years ago.

The road to recovery has been difficult, but Reilly has been there every step of the way. Catherine used to pass out unexpectedly in the early days of recovery. Reilly began to alert whoever he could find nearby when he sensed that Catherine’s blood sugars were low, a precursor to losing consciousness. When Catherine realized what Reilly was doing, he was trained to be an official medical alert dog. Reilly’s presence gave Catherine the confidence she needed to do normal daily activities without the fear of passing out unexpectedly.

Now Reilly, who is 12-years-old, needs assistance to help with pain management and mobility, due to his arthritis. Catherine found a way to rid Reilly of his pain with natural supplements, and she loads him into a Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair so he can enjoy longer walks on local park trails. The bond between Reilly and Catherine is quite remarkable and shows the kind of love and support possible between canines and humans.

Watch a video of Catherine telling their story here:

Read more about their story in this blog post:

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