When I picked up my phone a few weeks ago to call Jennifer Arnold, the founder and executive director of Canine Assistants, I wasn’t nearly prepared for what I was about to hear. I was aware of her position as the leader of this incredible foundation and I knew that anyone who dedicated their life to something like this had to be amazing and inspirational. But after hearing about the road that led her to Canine Assistants, the way I looked at her work and entire life’s dedication to this foundation was immediately changed. The amount of dedication, hard work and pride that she has in her work day to day is something that is palpable even over a 30-minute phone conversation. As with all women who we’ve profiled on WWTDG for HelloGiggles, after speaking to Jennifer I felt an immediate sense of needing to do something more.
When Jennifer was just 16 years old, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She described the onset of this disease as “rapid, and shocking and extremely upsetting”. I thought to myself, of course, getting this disease is all of these things. Any 16-year old who gets diagnosed with this sort of life changing illness must enter a state of immediate shock. As she told me this story of her initial diagnosis, I could still hear how painful it was for her. Her voice still carried the feelings of her 16-year-old self who was just told horrible news. But then she continued and her story changed in a way that was even harder to hear coming from a woman who, after only a few moments on the phone with, I respected so much.
She said that after her diagnosis she had an awakening moment with her father. He sat at the end of her bed and they discussed that her diagnosis with MS led her to what she was meant to do with her life, that her purpose was to bring help to those who needed it. Right then, they conceived the idea for Canine Assistants and set out to create the organization that exists today. Their idea for the foundation came out of the long waiting time that was standard for supplying dogs to those who needed them. In the beginning of the planning stages for Canine Assistants, Jennifer’s father was killed by a drunk driver.
Now Jennifer carries on her and her father’s dream through her organization. She has seen such success and has been able to provide thousands of dogs to those in need. Canine Assistants is able to provide hundreds of dogs a year to people all over the United States. Jennifer also has a New York Times Bestselling book called In a Dog’s Heart and provides training to those interested in working with her organization. I spoke with her a lot about the responsibility she feels to treating the animals properly, caring for them and placing them with those who are really in need. I cannot think of a better or more deserving person to profile for our Women Working To Do Good series on Hello Giggles.
Not only does she live her life as an example of what can be done with passion and dedication, she also shows what people with hard work and positivity can overcome. She used her perspective and experiences with Multiple Sclerosis to create something bigger than herself and help fill the void she felt in the world of Canine Assistants. Listening to her speak about what these animals are capable of doing, the amount of help and comfort they can actually bring to people was amazing and so eye opening. I can’t speak highly enough of Jennifer and the work she is doing for our community at large. Please visit her website to donate to Jennifer and her mission. Also, visit Canine Assistants to learn more about Jennifer and hear first hand from the people she helps every day.
Women Working to Do Good is a series that Hello Giggles and the White House have been collaborating on. We will bring you stories of women in communities across the United States who we think are stars in their own right. Whether they are young entrepreneurs, active community organizers, or making a difference in a single life or community, we think these women are amazing and want to share their stories with you! Each story will also be featured on the White House blog, and we are working together to bring more strong female role models to the forefront.
If there is a woman in your community who you think should be honored in this series, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!