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Pincie Creek Australian Shepherds

Pincie Creek Good Time Girl 

Life with Hadji

© 1999 by Rebecca Williams

In October of 1995 I decided that I wanted a really good family pet. I wanted a dog that would be gentle with my four-month-old daughter, but big enough to keep up with me when I went hiking and camping. One thing I knew for sure was that I definitely wanted a puppy, not an older dog. I researched several breeds and decided that I wanted an Australian Shepherd. With that in mind I began calling around for kennel names. Everyone I contacted said the place to go was Pincie Creek kennels in Dothan, Alabama. 

I called and then went out to see the puppies they had available. The one thing Roger Stevens knew for sure was that the dog for me was not a puppy, but a ten month old blue merle with a winning smile. I wanted a puppy, but decided to at least look at the dog he wanted to show me. I fell in love with her as soon as she looked at me with her "Aussie grin" and those incredible blue eyes. Roger was right, what I really wanted, and needed was a ten-month-old dog.

I brought my blue eyed "Awesome Aussie" home on my birthday, November 5, 1995. I named her Hadji, which means "traveler" in Hindu, never knowing how significant that name would be. I decided to train her to do obedience competition. Hadji learned quickly, and earned her Canine Good Citizen title after only a few months training. She seemed to want only to please me. She let everyone know that I belonged to her.

When I got Hadji I was working with a child therapist in Panama City, Florida as a character actor in psychodrama role-play. Basically I portrayed the abusive parent who caused her clients to suffer from attachment disorders. The therapist I worked for worked with adopted children in risk of losing their placement due to severe behavior problems. I often stayed at my employer's home when we were doing intensives because I was required to be there every day for two to three weeks at a time. One night Hadji decided to finish up her day by taking a spontaneous swim in my employer’s pool, while her dog looked on trying to muster up the courage to join in, but never did even get his feet wet.

I have an illness very similar to MS. I was in remission when I purchased Hadji, but in February 1997, I woke up one morning a little sore. I thought it was just a set back, nothing to worry with. Even in remission, I experienced days of severe pain, and often suffered from chronic fatigue, but these symptoms only lasted a few days at the time. I told everyone nothing was wrong, and I would be fine in a few days, happens all the time. Hadji knew I was wrong. She began to follow me from room to room. She would get very close when I tried to stand up. If a muscle started to cramp, she would come to me and whine, even when no one else realized I was hurting. Within two weeks I was back in my wheelchair. I remembered the last time I had to use a wheelchair for mobility, losing my identity, becoming the girl in the wheelchair, the pity stares, the oh how awfuls. Depression again? Not this time!

I got this crazy idea. I took Hadji out to a parking lot to see what she would do if I had her walk beside my chair. No problem. A heel is a heel. She actually grinned at me. She seemed to say, "See, I can do this Mom! This is what I was sent to you for. " My family thought I had gone insane! I purchased saddlebags, and harnesses, and all kinds of gadgets to "outfit" my dog. Hadji took it all in stride. Even the ridiculous stage of making her wear a raincoat. Within a week she was helping me, and within three months she was doing everything I needed her to do. Hadji is the best, because she never forgets to open the door for me. She carries my groceries in her saddlebags, and never tries to eat the steak. She also helps me transfer from my chair, and on good days when I have good mobility, and use my crutches, she is right by my side. I thought about having her fetch my daughter for me, but decided someone would surely think it was an attack.

People ask me what is the most important thing Hadji does for me. In honesty, it is none of the things she is trained to do. I felt like less of a person when I became wheelchair bound in 1993. Unintentionally people treated me differently. They felt sorry for me, and talked down to me, and in their attempts to be nice to me, they made me feel helpless. I felt like I was disabled. It only took one day out with Hadji for me to see the best benefit. People were amazed with my dog. "What kind of dog is that? Wow, blue eyes. How did you get her? Who trained her to do all of that?" A million questions. By the time they get over the fascination of my dog, they have forgotten about my chair, and they are talking to me just like everyone else. I'm not different, I'm not disabled, I'm the lady with the cool dog.

The way people react to me this time around has been amazing. Yes, there are people who think my dog shouldn't be allowed in public places, but the majority of people think it is great that she is there. Somehow, between my dog, and the difference in how people see me, my confidence is stronger now than ever in my life. I have gone back to college, and Hadji and I are in our last semester at Troy State University, in Troy, Alabama, and we plan to go on to graduate school at Auburn University. She carries my books, and opens doors, but I have to do the homework.

In 1993 Fibromyalgia took control of my life. This time I took control of my life. I am active on campus, and I go snorkeling, which worries Hadji sick, canoeing, and camping, and Hadji and I even take an occasional trip up in a twin engine plane. Hadji wanted to be pilot, but I assured her that the nice man flying the plane was more qualified.

Through my illness, and the faith of my service dog, I have learned that life is to be lived, and " there is no strength where there is no struggle". To people who haven't had the pleasure of living with a service dog, my feelings may seem strange, but somehow with Hadji in my life, my faith has been restored. She taught me about God's unconditional love, because she loves me no matter what. She believes in me, and I have learned to believe in myself. I found courage to take back my life, and I am working on a new career in Rehabilitation Counseling.

I am amazed as I think back over all the things Hadji and I have done together. In a few weeks we will be finished with college. This May when I go across the stage to get my Degree Hadji will be right there with me. We did it together, and her name is inscribed on my class ring, forever a reminder that I couldn't have done it without her.

Hadji is my constant companion and she has never let me down. She is always there with a grin and wink whenever I need encouragement. Sometimes I think just maybe Guardian Angels come equipped with four paws in the shape of a dog, and they are called Australian Shepherds. At least that's the way mine is.



~~ Inquiries Welcomed ~~
Roger & Kathy Stevens
175 Fortson Road
Dothan, Alabama  36305
Phone 334-692-3883 (call after 7:30 p.m. CST)
or email us at


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