To look at 16-year-old Meredith Butenhoff, one would think that she’s the picture of health. The pretty blonde high school student from Greenville has a ready smile and speaks with a soft melodic voice that belies the fact she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDH), a condition that causes chronic fatigue, dizziness, and joint pain.
Meredith was diagnosed with EDH at the age of 11 and she, along with her family, have been courageously battling the syndrome and endeavoring to lead as normal a life as possible ever since. About three years ago, a ray of hope came into their lives in the shape of a dog.
While the family was attending a medical conference, they learned about Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services or PAALS, a South Carolina based organization that trains and places assistant service dogs with individuals such as Meredith who need help with daily tasks that the average person takes for granted.
“Most people don’t think twice about things like turning on a light switch or opening a door, but these are things that are a real challenge to our clients,” said Jennifer Rogers, PAALS executive director. “We train our dogs to do up to 70 behaviors that can assist people with a variety of disabilities so they can live more independent and enriched lives.”
Read More: The Columbia Star