Robert Deluca has had a long journey with Huntington disease (HD) since being diagnosed four years ago. Robert stays at home with his wife, Tati. The time has come, though, for Tati to return to work.
Feeling nervous about being alone at home and having received recommendations from his neurologist, family doctor and HSC social worker to get an emotional support animal, Robert and Tati decided they needed to seek a companion for him. And who do they say is a man’s best friend? A dog, of course!
Through an ad online, they discovered Calgary-based breeders, Ranch Retrievers. Ranch Retrievers is owned and run by Raelyn and Jeff Callaway of Legacy Ranch. The family owned and operated farm and ranch raises golden retrievers with a balance of outdoor fitness and indoor living. The owner’s daughters ensure the puppies are raised with kind temperaments and a kid friendly demeanor.
When Robert spoke with Raelyn and Jeff, he discovered that Jeff’s family has also been impacted by HD. After discussing their mutual connection to the disease, Jeff and Raelyn gave Robert the greatest gift of all…
They decided to donate the golden retriever to Robert. The adoption fee for one of their puppies is typically $1,800.
Jeff and Raelyn just wanted to show their support for the HD community and for Robert’s family.
“We are very honoured to be a part of Robert’s journey, even in this small way,” says Raelyn. “HD has been a very big part of our lives. It’s been difficult and so we are blessed to be able to help make someone else’s experience a bit easier in some way.”
Robert and his wife were overjoyed. “It was impossible to believe,” says Robert. “I was on the phone and my wife was in the other room and I had her come over to check if I was hearing things! We were crying so hard, we are so thankful.”
Thanks to Jeff and Raelyn and Ranch Retrievers, Robert no longer feels anxious about his wife returning to work.
“I know that with my condition it is hard to be left alone during the day,” says Robert. “I’m very excited to get our puppy to her new home soon!”
Shannon MacKinnon, Southern Alberta Resource Centre Director, agrees that having an emotional support animal will be good for Robert, “I think Robert will benefit from an emotional support animal, in that the social interaction during the day while he is home will be beneficial, as well as getting him out to exercise everyday by giving walks to the dog will greatly improve his physical activity level,” says Shannon. “I hope that he will be happier and more socially connected through this lovely new addition to his family.”