Pete Murphy's Dementia Service Dog

Peter Murphy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a little over a year ago. Since his diagnosis, our family has been trying to make his life easier and as normal as possible, along with trying to keep our lives going. To say this has been a tough task would be putting it lightly. His wife Linda has had to make sacrifices in her life to be his caregiver and this has taken its toll on her. The thought of him losing his independence alone breaks everyone’s heart and we would love nothing more than to see him happy for as long as possible. The past few months we have seen a drastic change in his personality, almost as if he has lost his motivation to fight his battle. He knows what is happening to him.

Dog Wish Inc. was designed to help those with neurological disabilities and disorders. These dogs are custom selected and trained according to each individual’s needs, and are not produced generically like other organizations. It has been found that each person has specific needs that are unique and special and these needs are addressed with a quality of dog trained to fit those specifics.

After talking with the trainer Bob Taylor at Dog Wish, we learned that they do have a German shepherd currently in training for a Dementia patient looking for a caregiver and guardian. This dog would be at Pete’s side 100% of the time, ensuring he does not wander off, reminding him to turn off the stove, bring him back to his house if he were to get lost on a walk, and much more daily worries that our family faces on a regular basis. And as an added bonus, one thing that Pete mentions every day is how he wishes he had his own German shepherd again.

As much as we would love to get this process started right away, financially this seems out of our reach. These service dogs cost anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000. It is hard for our family to ask for help, but we desperately are searching for a way to extend Pete’s life a little longer and fill it with happy, safe memories instead of worrisome days. Any donation would help us to hit our goal of $20,000. This donation can change Pete’s life for the better.


Below is our family’s thoughts on why we feel this would be the best thing to happen to Pete:

 Linda (wife):

Having a Psychiatric Service Dog by his side would help Peter in so many more ways than any person can imagine!!  Not just for Peter but his entire family and circle of friends as well. It frightens him to know he is losing his battle in maintaining his independence!!  One day he may and most likely will wonder off and not be able to find his way back home.  One of my greatest fears!!  These dogs trained by at Dog Wish by Bob Taylor help greatly in these two areas and more.  With his Service Vest on he will be on duty 24/7 to be a loyal caregiver for Peter.   With it off he will be a fun and loyal family pet. Fulfilling this request would also take two things off Peter’s Bucket List!!  One to return to Camp Pendleton in California where he became a Marine and second having his very own GSD!!  To say to him “Guess what?”” would be a moment I would hope I can share with each and every one of you!!

Jamie (daughter):

After quite a bit of research regarding a Service Dementia Dog (SDD), I realized that this would be such a great fit for my dad.  Dogs have such keen senses and they are able to sense what is going within someone before people around them do.  I would not be thinking about this as getting my dad a dog, but he is getting an additional ‘caregiver’ to help him feel more comfortable in his surroundings, possibly gain a little more independence, his ‘caregiver’ would help the people around him understand what may be going through my dad’s head but he is unable to get the right words out.  The SDD would be his constant companion.  Additionally, by having this extra ‘caregiver’, I only see this as a big help and relief for my mom.  She comes from the same era that so many of the older, very proud, generations do…take care of your spouse and don’t ask for any help.  This journey has taken a huge toll on her both physically and emotionally.  She loves my dad very much and wants him to experience as much of his life while he still can.  With the SDD, she will not have to sleep with one eye open, try to understand why he is frustrated, and give that extra comfort of knowing dad has ‘someone’ always with him.  I feel that by having a SDD for my dad…it will not only prolong this disease and the future of his care, but it will also add back some life that both my parents need and deserve.

The reason for choosing Dog Wish is their record for training these type of special service dogs for dementia patients is exemplary.  We have talked to the few places, in the country that works with Service Dementia Dogs and Bob and his team are the best.  And yes, it does help that he specializes in German Shepherd Dogs, which is what my dad’s favorite dog. Bob has answered every question we have ‘thrown his way’ with professionalism and compassion.

Kim (daughter):
My dad has always been there for me and for my family.  Over these past few years we have watched how this disease takes a little bit of him away from us every day and these last few months, it is clear that he is aware of what is going on and he is sad.   When my sister and mother told me there are these service dogs that are trained just for people with dementia and how they can not only help the people with the condition, but provide some relief for the caregivers I knew that this would be the best thing for my dad.  He loves dogs, but his favorite breed is a german shepherd.  A service dog would provide my dad with a daily companion that would ensure he is safe, for example, by keeping him from getting in a car to drive or letting him know that he needs to turn off the stove.  Additionally, I believe that a german shepherd will help raise his spirits again.  My mom is my dad’s primary caregiver and I have seen how the progression of his disease is taking its toll on her.  A service dog would also help my mom as the dog would always be there with him and provide her with assurance that someone is watching out for my dad – even when mom is sleeping.

Hadley (grand-daughter):

My grandpa has always been one of the most important people in my life. We have always shared a love for our German Shepherds. He talks daily about how he wishes he had his own GSD again, but in all reality with his condition we as a family knew it wouldn’t be an option for him to get another dog of his own. When we heard about Dog Wish, I was amazed at what these service dogs can actually do for these patients. These dogs are able to go with their owners everywhere, be their guardian, best friend, and companion every second of their lives, all while keeping the patient calm and finding their way back to where they need to be. They are an additional caregiver. A dog from Dog Wish would keep my grandpa safe every day, and bring out the happiness we all remember. To my grandpa, he would finally be getting his German shepherd he’s been wanting; to all the rest of us, he would finally be getting the caregiver he needs 100% of the time.


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Hadley Murphy 
Rochester, MN
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