Pauline Hoegler founder and Executive Director or Golden Opportunities for Independence, helps people with a disability gain confidence and independence with the help of a highly trained service dog. As a registered nurse, Pauline is faced with life and death situations on a daily basis. She takes pride in maintaining composure and having an insight into patients and recipients needs. From this, she is able to provide comfort and canine assistance to people that are facing the hardest times of their lives. Working closely with recipients, Pauline has a special ability to determine which dogs are best suited to their needs. Throughout the process, she supports recipients by providing them with a mentor to aid them in training their own service dog. Pauline makes GOFI more than just a service dog organization, it is her family.
Golden Opportunities for Independence (GOFI) Service Dog Program pairs recipients with their service dog early in their rearing so they can develop a special bond. It is the bond that is essential in getting a dog to work willingly with their handlers. We provide recipients with a family of support, and life skills learned thru training their own service dog. Gofi starts the process by allowing the recipients to visit their puppies when they are just days old. Entering a room full of puppies has a soothing effect on people. Being able to hold them when they are that young assists in developing a strong bond that is necessary for the high level of training that a service dog requires. We strive to see the recipients of dogs become more confident, and live more independently.
Asking for help is a hard thing to do. People with disabilities have to ask for help for the most simplest of tasks for you and I. Something so simple as picking a pen up off the floor and turning lights on and off takes a tremendous amount of energy for someone who has a disability. Many times people with disabilities have been stripped of their privacy, independence and in turn their confidence. Our organization aims to bridge the gap between medical care that provides assistance with activities of daily living versus the need for facilitated inpatient medical care. If we can keep a person out of the hospital because they are able to function with the use of a service dog, then isn’t it worth it?
Through Golden Opportunities for Independence, I have seen people with disabilities gain new found confidence and independence. A young woman who previously would require 24 hour supervision is now able to shower alone for the first time in her life because of her service dog, a veteran with mobility issues who could not work because they could not climb a flight of stairs, be able to return to work, and people with PTSD that would not leave the confines of their own home become gainfully employed.