Life With A Service Dog

May 26, 2020

Riley Alberson is excited for graduation — and that her service dog is also being recognized.

The McAlester High School senior has juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which causes her joints to dislocate, constant pain, and daily seizures.

Multiple seizures each day can result with her losing consciousness without anyone around to help.

She suffered a seizure and passed out in a bathroom at McAlester High School earlier in the school year and the door was too heavy for Tango the service dog to open it.

So Tango pushed Riley onto her side to help keep her air way clear until someone found them.

“The door was too heavy for her to do her job so she got behind her and pushed her on her side so she could do her job,” Riley’s mom, Amber, said of Tango.

Amber said the school district has worked to help accommodate them and prevent similar situations from happening in the future — adding “I feel like she has been very supported at the high school.”

Tango is a mixed breed dog and was trained at Therapetics, a nonprofit organization in Tulsa.

She can open doors, turn off lights, take off socks, get medicine, and even sneaks the TV remote away from Riley’s sister when needed.

Tango is by Riley’s side at all times — and on every Walmart trip she gets to pick out a toy that she proudly carries around the store.

The family said anyone is free to ask questions about Tango to learn more, but they hope others learn proper etiquette around service dogs.

Riley said people not used to seeing service dogs will often try to pet and talk with them — but they should resist trying to interact with them.

“People don’t realize that they’re working,” Riley said of service dogs. “Tango can’t help me if I have a seizure and she’s being distracted.”

“They get excited because you don’t usually see a dog in a restaurant or something,” Amber said.

Amber said doctors couldn’t figure out why Riley was in pain as an 8-year-old before development of scoliosis at age 11 led to blood testing that revealed the other disorders.

Riley said she avoided the pain as a child by spending recess sitting and talking with teachers instead of playing with the other kids.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, I just didn’t want to go and do anything and join the activities because it always hurt and I couldn’t always do them,” Riley said.

Riley still spends time with friends and reads lots of books — including some favorites such as the Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings series.

She also likes to draw, spending more time recently depicting nature.

Riley goes to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Shreveport, Louisiana, for treatment and only had to go once since restrictions were put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her parents work at essential businesses so they’ve been concerned about potentially bringing the virus home with them.

Now Riley is preparing for graduation as MHS is set for a June 6 ceremony at a location and time to be determined if Oklahoma enters Phase 3 of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Open Up Recover Safely Plan by then.

She has been accepted to Oral Roberts University and plans to become an anesthesiologist.

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    June 2, 2021

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    More Recent News