Steamboat Springs As Zuma lay under a desk Wednesday, it was apparent the 1-year-old German shepherd was in pain.
Zuma’s hips were shaved from emergency surgery to repair a shattered pelvis where plates and screws were inserted.
“It didn’t matter how busted up he was or how damaged he was,” Engle said. “I wanted to have him around.”
Zuma, though, isn’t just any dog. He is a service dog in training, and he and Engle — who is the executive director for Northwest Colorado Center for Independence — are inseparable.
Engle is in a wheelchair, and Zuma’s training is designed to help him make Engle's life a little easier.
Last Friday, Zuma was hit by a car in front of the Center for Independence on Lincoln Avenue. The impact caused Zuma to skid 50 feet down the road and end up across the street.
Engle eventually found Zuma huddled in a bush. It was touch-and-go the first night, Engle said, but through the efforts of the veterinary team at Pet Kare Clinic, Zuma is recovering.
“He’s getting better every day,” Engle said. “I’m really encouraged. His progress is positive.”
Engle said he was grateful for the help and care Zuma received.
In his role at the Center for Independence, Engle helps people with disabilities lead a more fulfilling life. Zuma is Engle's third service dog and has been training with Engle for the past nine months.
His previous service dog was Zuma’s uncle.
“He’s like a spiritual appendage,” Engle said, speaking of Zuma. “A service dog can change someone's life.”
Zuma is always at Engle’s side. If he drops something, the black German shepherd is there to retrieve it. If Engle ever needs his chair or needs to be pulled around, Zuma is there.
Even when Engle goes to the bathroom, Zuma is quick to stand guard, anxious for him to return.
Engle encouraged any person who thinks they need a service dog to get in touch with him at the Center for Independence. He said the dogs serve multiple purposes from serving as seeing eye dogs, helping those with epilepsy and assisting the elderly and people with neurological problems. He can be reached at email@example.com.
“I think it adds to the level of relation with your dog,” he said. “A lot of people talk about the unconditional love. There’s an added layer when they’re with you all day, every day.”
Those wanting to help Engle with Zuma's veterinary bills can make donations at the Pet Kare Clinic, 102 Anglers Dr.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham