- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The Petco Foundation donated $100,000 to the Nevada Humane Society after learning about a Reno woman who trained her own service dog that she adopting five years ago.

Linda Hibbard has multiple sclerosis, a disabling disease that affects the central nervous system and disrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body. Because of her disability, she has a difficult time moving around or doing some daily chores.

That’s why she decided she needed a service dog. But getting a trained dog takes two to four years and can get very competitive, she said.

“So I went looking for a dog to adopt out of a shelter, and in my area where I live (in Douglas County), there weren’t any that fit the criteria that I needed,” Hibbard said, adding she also searched shelters in Carson City. “I tried several places, and then I came up here to Reno.”

Hibbard said she was looking for a lab mix, but instead found Brindy, a pit bull mix. Brindy was 10 months old at the time.

“.and I fell in love,” Hibbard said.

“.Sure enough, Brindy has been perfect,” she said. “She has been a wonderful, wonderful dog for me.”

The donation was part of Petco Foundation’s third annual Holiday Wishes campaign. This year, organizers asked adopters to share how their adopted pet changed their lives and made it better, said Susanne Kogut, Petco Foundation executive director.

The Holiday Wishes campaign saw more than 3,000 submissions.

“It was incredible, and I have to tell you the staff and everyone at the foundation that was reading the stories, I mean we were laughing and smiling,” Kogut said during a check presentation. “But there were also some tears because they were really heart-felt stories about how important pets are in our lives and how much they change it.”

One of those submissions was Hibbard’s.

“It was just remarkable to not only know that adopting a pet not only saves the life of a pet, it truly can change your life,” Kogut said of Hibbard’s letter.

Hibbard took Brindy to a local dog training class and eventually went to Dog Scouts of America, where Brindy earned three badges.

“She helps me walk with her harness,” Hibbard said. “She retrieves my phone. She goes and gets my brace - I have a leg brace - and if I leave my leg brace in the other room, I can tell her to get it, and she’ll get it and bring it to me.”

Brindy also closes doors and helps Hibbard walk without a brace.

“She loves to go places, and she loves to go grocery shopping,” she said, adding she and Brindy volunteer for the Salvation Army. “When you have a disability, people look at you kind of funny, and it’s very awkward for them.

“But when you have a dog, breaks down that barrier.”

Hibbard said most people approach her to compliment and say hello to Brindy first.

“I’ve had animals all my life, and I could always tell my animals things that I could never tell another person,” Hibbard said. ” . I can talk to her, and she’ll just love me. I’ll say, ‘Give me a kiss,’ and it’s right there.”

“She’s more than I imagined,” Hibbard said of Brindy.

The Petco Foundation works with more than 1,400 stores and has invested about $135 million to help animals nationwide. Petco stores have also done 4.2 million adoptions. The Petco Foundation has also awarded 750,000 grants to more than 50 organizations throughout the country that range from $5,000 to $100,000.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

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