Service Dogs Help Create Hope, Recovery and Resiliency

The first in a series highlighting the amazing contributions canine partners make to America’s Finest.
Jerry Wayne Padgett II
Thank you very much for this opportunity to share the story of Team Jerry & Bayley!  I wrote this piece with the help of my wife to convey our story.
Bayley was born May 8, 2012, she was the runt of the litter and has since surpassed all of her siblings in size. My first impression of Bayley was of this cute big black & white fur-ball. My very own Jersey Cow! A lot of times the human chooses the dog, but in our case….Bayley chose me! She has so many skills that can’t be taught, but are just known, it is amazing.
Bayley’s middle name is Madison, by the way, and she is named after my previous Service Dog.
Our first walk with Bayley was after taking her home to live with us. She immediately showed her loyalty and dedication to her family on this day (and every day since!). Bayley was walking with me on her leash and my wife was walking our other dog and pushing our son in his stroller. We turned a corner and my wife noticed a big dog, all of a sudden, darting at us.  We weren’t sure who this dog was, but Bayley having only been with us a matter of hours, put herself in harm’s way to protect our family, even if it meant she could get hurt. 
In most cases, service dogs are chosen for the person and then trained to assist the person. But in our case as I said, Bayley had to choose me. She is able to do something no one can train a Service Dog to do: she can detect when a situation or task of daily living may be too much for me. When this happens, I can have a seizure.  Bayley is able to detect this change in my body chemistry and let someone know. She has been able to detect this change before an episode and alert me to take it easy or alert those around me. 
When my family and I were still living in California, I had been having an increasingly difficult time. We weren’t sure what was wrong, other than I kept blacking out so we went to the local ER. Not long after arriving, Bayley started acting really weird for her and within 30 minutes, I had a grand mal seizure. While they monitored me and we waited for the neurologist, Bayley was lying on the bed with me and suddenly started acting funny again.  The monitors were not showing anything, but within 30 minutes, Bayley was right: I had another seizure. She knew me so well and still does!
Bayley’s personality is as unforgettable as her appearance! She makes an impression everywhere she goes. Her talents and skills go a little hand in hand at times. She was trained to serve, help and comfort. She does all these things for her “Jerry,” but also the rest of her family and anyone who crosses her path who needs those things. She seems to like being seen or noticed, even at the same time knowing she is not supposed to be touched or bothered!
Honestly, every day is an adventure with Bayley! A lot of service dogs just sit and wait for a command or task to be presented but not her.  Bayley is present for all around her. She takes care of her “Jerry,” but also the rest of her family and people around her. She is a diva in every sense of the word and she is funny: after she leaves the groomer after a “spa day,” she just prances out to the car and wherever she goes for the rest of the day!
What I like most about Bayley is her compassion, temperament and unbelievable drive to please.  Her greatest asset to me is her ability to be able to read a situation, to know when to act like a dog and when to act like a Service Animal, and her loyalty to me, to never leave my side in any situation.
Bayley attends most every event I participate in, but I think her favorites are the annual events she gets to help with like the Honor Ride in St. Petersburg and the Challenge Rides where she gets to assist in her way! 
Bayley knows when I just need her to sit with me and just keep me company and when the world is foreign or too much for me. She is my lifeline to the outside world and my saving grace, today and every day!
If Bayley could talk about Project Hero, I think she would say “Thank you for getting my Jerry back out on the Road of Life! Thank you for giving him back a purpose and new goals to strive for and achieve!”


Project Hero Partners — Who make it all possible