A couple of weeks ago I was driving east on Third Street, as I crossed Rogers I saw the pair in the picture happily making their way home on a beautiful day, an ordinary scene, a girl and her dog.
This pair is so far from ordinary that they bring tears to my eyes.
Adria and her service dog Lucy, better known as Lu, are a magical team. One is autistic one is not. I met Adria when she became part of our Indiana Daily Student Family. She covered mostly city issues and did a great job. She is smart, funny and articulate. One of my favorite stories was the one Adria told us about her challenges with autism. She became disoriented easily and had a difficult time finding her way around the huge Indiana University Campus. It was hard for her to follow directions in order to get to class, a daunting task for any freshmen, let alone one who is directionally challenged. In her clever way, Adria devised a plan which she hoped would save her from embarrassment. She would adopt a French, Spanish or British accent when she approached someone to ask for directions. She didn't feel as foolish asking directions as a foreign student as she would have asking as a freshmen from Louisville, Kentucky. Brilliant!
Adria has met many challenges in her life, but had been unable to live independently, which was her hope and her extremely supportive family's hope. As many of you know who have adult children with disabilities, financial support and programs disappear after a child turns eighteen.
But Adria found her key to independence, an angel in the guise of a service dog. Adria and Lu went through the training together. There was a very scary time when Lu had a joint problem that could disqualify her from the service program if she couldn't be healed. We all held our breath and tried to support Adria who was beside herself with the fear that her vision of freedom would evaporate with the loss of Lu. We heaved a great sigh of relief when Lu got the all clear. Everyone was doing a happy dance while Lu looked at us as if we had all lost our minds. Adria's zest for life is contagious.
Her many friends have joyfully followed each of Adria and Lu's milestone each time she posts on
Facebook as Lu guides her around Bloomington. Her milestones are the "little things" that we take for granted every day, their first time to ride the bus, their first time to Target, the first time to the grocery and many other victories that gave Adria a life of independence that wouldn't have been possible without Lu. But Lu is much more than a service dog, she is Adria's best friend, her confidant, her constant companion who gives all what we crave, unconditional love. I love her posts about the funny things this amazing dog does and their adventures around town. Many of you have probably seen them, this pretty dark haired young woman and her yellow lab with the red vest.
Adria pays it forward. She is a great spokesperson for the service dog program, gives talks to groups and is an inspiration to all her meet her. Everyone has a story and if you see this Dynamic Duo walking around Bloomington, you will smile because you know a little of theirs now.
Rebekah for The Poplar Grove Muse