PLATTSMOUTH – Cass County residents will have a chance to meet an animal who can provide the key to happiness for people with physical disabilities.
Lynn Schense will bring her trained service/guide dog Key to the Plattsmouth Public Library for a free presentation Wednesday, Aug. 28. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will include a speech, question-and-answer session and time for audience members to say hello to Key.
Schense lives in Papillion and is a trained volunteer puppy raiser for KSDS Assistant Dogs, Inc. The organization is based in Washington, Kan., and provides animals to people across the country. Service/guide dogs help the visually impaired, people with physical disabilities and professionals in the fields of education, counseling and healthcare.
Schense has traveled around eastern Nebraska providing information about Key and other guide dogs to different groups. She said she is excited about coming to Plattsmouth and sharing her experiences with both children and adults.
“These dogs change the lives of people in ways no one can imagine,” Schense said. “To have a blind or disabled person be able to receive a dog and be helped by them is just the most amazing thing. It’s just awesome. It’s really rewarding to be part of this program.”
Key is a black Labrador retriever and is the sixth dog Schense has raised. She received Key when she was eight months old and spent the next year conducting many training sessions with her. Schense gave Key basic obedience skills and took her out in public to practice socializing with other people.
Schense returned Key to KSDS in October 2017 in preparation for a match with a person. Key was about ready to graduate from the training program in 2018 when she developed a kidney infection. The medical issue disqualified her from being a certified service dog.
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“I got her back in May 2018, and KSDS called me one day and asked if I would like to have Key be their first ambassador dog,” Schense said. “They called it a career change for her, and I said that was fine. I was really excited about it.”
Schense has brought Key to nursing homes, community centers and many schools across the area. She introduces her to people and explains to them what a trained service/guide dog is. The presentation includes photographs and stories about Key’s personality and abilities.
Audience members then have a chance to watch Key in action. Schense gives her multiple commands that she would do if she were in the field with a person in need. Schense said many people are amazed at the different talents Key has.
“She can do all sorts of things,” Schense said. “She can pick up a phone, open and shut doors, open and shut cupboards and take your shoes off. She’s a really smart dog.”
Light refreshments will be served at the library during the evening. The program will also feature posters, handouts and coloring books for children.
Schense said she has been overwhelmed with the positive response to Key’s ambassadorial skills in the area.
“It’s so much fun to go out and educate people about these types of services,” Schense said. “It really is a great thing to see people learn about these dogs.”