Fancihorse is truly one of the best shops of Etsy: It features adorable andhilarious crocheted hats and Halloween costumes for tiny critters, and all the proceeds benefit a nonprofit that trains rescue dogs to become mobility assistance dogs.
Francihouse and nonprofit New Life Mobility Assistance Dogs were founded by Karen Brown, who says her life was transformed when a collie named Ozzie gave her back some of the independence she had lost to muscular dystrophy.
Karen found herself becoming depressed and isolated after her diagnosis of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy at age 28.
“Depression and loss of confidence and self-esteem played roles in isolating me from society,” she writes on NLMAD’s website. “I quit driving and going out. I filled my time with reading, writing, crocheting afghans by the dozen, and watching television.”
Ozzie, a trained “walker dog,” gave Karen not just physical independence, but confidence.
“As my disease progressed, Ozzie needed to meet the challenges of my ever-changing needs,” Karen writes. “I taught him to pull a wheelchair because my balance was getting worse. He also learned to retrieve dropped items and the phone, carry in groceries, and retrieve sodas from the refrigerator.”
Before Ozzie had to retire, Karen trained a shelter dog, Jessie, to replace him. She also became a member of the Humane Society, and saw the untapped potential of so many dogs in shelters: they could become assistance dogs. She founded New Life Mobility Assistance Dogs in tribute to Jessie, who was tragically killed by a car.
NLMAD continues to train shelter dogs to become assistance dogs. Karen’s current assistance dog, Summer, was rescued from a landfill and was slated to be euthanized. The yellow lab, now a trained assistance dog, is an integral part of Karen’s life.
“With her by my side I am fully confident,” says Karen. “She is the joy of my life. I am rarely out of my wheelchair these days. My leg muscles have really begun to wither. I can no longer transfer from a seated position. My arm strength also has diminished to the point that one pound is the maximum weight I can lift. Summer is always on call. She picks up anything I drop. If I get myself into a predicament, she is ready and willing to bring the phone to me so I can call for help. Undressing has the potential to be a great source of frustration for me, but Summer makes a game of it. Without her, a full-time aide would be necessary. Summer gives me emotional peace because she never minds helping me, never grumbles or complains, never rolls her eyes at me. She is always only too happy to assist!”
NLMAD gives rescue shelter dogs a new lease on life, but also gives the dogs’ recipients a new life, says Karen. “A life that will no longer have to rely on always asking for help in some of life’s ‘taken for granted’ achievements or pleasures, ranging from picking up something dropped, to going off solo in a shopping mall.”
Karen’s beautiful jewelry and crocheted creations are sold in the Etsy shop Fancihorse. All of the proceeds from the sales go to NLMAD, a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization. Besides the crocheted hats for tiny critters like frogs, toads, guinea pigs, and hamsters, Karen also makes crocheted hats for larger critters, bridle bands for horses, and other items.
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