The Healing Power of Dog
Photography: Fran Jewell
Wyatt sits at the feet of Makenzie Ellsworth, a T3 paraplegic who relies on the black lab for those efforts she cannot perform herself like turning down her bed each night.
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The handsome, dark-haired, dark-eyed fellow with the heart-shaped face and love-glazed eyes and the darling brown-haired athlete in the two-wheeler seat are glancing lovingly at each other as they sit beside the basketball court in the Community Campus gym.
As children dart about, bouncing, dropping and chasing balls all around the placid couple, the two aren’t bothered. The only thing they care about is each other. So when a child asks the girl if he can pet the black Lab in the blue vest at the wheelchair’s feet, he is cautioned not to. Wyatt is a working dog and here at the basketball court, on this day, he is learning to tend to Makenzie, in spite of distractions.
Wyatt, 1, Makenzie, 16—even an online dating service couldn’t have made a more perfect match. It’s a love match meant to last a lifetime.
But Makenzie Ellsworth wasn’t looking for love a year ago. Back then she was busy between basketball and rodeo events, her schoolwork and her friends.
A car accident in August 2006 near her dad’s home in Salmon changed her journey in an instant. When the car she was riding in stopped flipping, Makenzie’s legs stopped working, too.
Makenzie is a T3 paraplegic, which means she has full head and neck movement with normal muscle strength, normal shoulder movement and full use of her arms, wrists and fingers. The paralysis is entirely in her lower body and legs. Because of her athleticism, she has more independence than most. She can feed and tend to herself, shift from chair to chair or chair to bed, or, to the driver’s seat of a car when that time comes. >>>