This is Raffey, he is an 11-year-old Alaskan malamute and my service dog. I found Raphael (Raffey) through an online Michigan breeder November 2005, he hadn’t been born, however, the parents were well known in the movies, and their previous puppies all had a really good disposition. Once the puppies were born videos and pictures were sent so I could pick, I was really sick at the time and I was in the hospital, that’s when I found out I had the pick of the litter. When you adopt puppies online, the puppy has to be 8 weeks old before it can fly, be cleared by a vet, and receive its first set of shots.
Service dog training was interesting, to say the least, malamutes are very strong willed, and teaching has to be repetitive. In the third training class, Raffey didn’t want anything to do with me, which is unusual, he kept standing in front of a gentleman across from me, pawing his leg. When Raffey started talking to the gentleman the instructor asked me if he had done this before, I shook my head and just watched. The instructor had everyone move to the side, except the guy Raffey was talking to, the instructor began asking the gentleman question regarding his health, and he is epileptic, so the instructor had the gentleman lay down and Raffey crawled over to him slowly. Raffey laid his head on the gentleman’s chest and gently liking him. Less than 2 minutes and the gentleman started having a seizure. Raffey stayed by his side until the medics arrived when I moved him away. The instructor later told me Raffey was a natural, not all dogs know how to react in situations like that and he did beautifully.
October 2014, I had a routine appointment with my primary doctor, I wasn’t really feeling that well. Raffey (pretty much goes everywhere with me) was sitting a little off to the side in the middle of the room when he gently took the doctor by the hand with his mouth and pulled him closer to me on the table. This went on for a couple of minutes when the doctor started asking me about Raffey’s service specialty. Raffey was originally taught to recognize the signs of a seizure, to my knowledge I have never had a seizure so my doctor decided to run some tests.
It took about a week for all the test results to come back and the doctor calling me in to go over what he found if anything. As I sat there listening to the doctor ramble on about my test result, and honestly I stopped listening as soon as he said the cancer was back, Raffey just looked at me with those blue eyes all I could think was Raffey saved my life. I went through a really bad depression that lasted a few years, lots of pain and nausea, eating disorders, and hospital visits.
Raffey has been the best cancer buddy and service dog I have ever had, he has helped keep my spirits up, always knows how I’m feeling, and makes my life complete. Raffey has been through everything with me, he has helped make my journey better, and he has even saved my life. Because of Raffey’s parents, he has done special appearances at fundraisers, awareness gatherings, and loves to visit the kids in the hospital. My personal favorite event we did was called Sydney’s run for a local non-profit supporting mentally challenged adults and children. With other dogs, kids, and so much commotion going on Raffey was on his game, he did his job with no redirections.