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Assistance Dogs Give Navy Veteran Back the Life She Thought She’d Lost

One morning, retired Navy veteran Beverly Francisco James woke up not feeling well and wound up falling between her bed and the wall. When she woke up, she was able to dial 911 and stayed on the phone with the emergency dispatcher until help arrived. Beverly had suffered a brain hemorrhage that left her partially blind and impaired on her left side.

Initially, Beverly feared that the life she had known was over.

“After my hemorrhage, I thought my family would have to help me get around for the rest of my life,” she says. “I thought that was it, as far as having a normal life.”

Enterprise’s Dion Silva, President - Santa Fe Region, with Gigi, the ADW dog raised by Dion and sponsored by Enterprise. Dion has raised several facility dogs, one of whom is working in Los Angeles with child crime victims.

That’s until Beverly met a service dog named Tilly Willey Mae. The two connected through Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW), an organization that utilizes the power of human-animal bonds to build meaningful partnerships between clients and dogs. Tilly was one of thousands of dogs ADW has trained and put into service since their founding in 1995.

In addition to loyalty and companionship, Tilly helped Beverly with many things, including walking, assisting with balance, and helping read and respond to Beverly’s emotional needs.

“She could read my mind. She could sense my emotions. She just knew what I needed — it was amazing,” Beverly says. “When I was sick, she would lay quietly and calmly. When I got better, she would nudge me to get outside. And I’ll add that everyone in the neighborhood loved Tilly.”

Beverly eventually lost Tilly but recently welcomed a new service dog, a 2-year-old yellow Lab named Morgan, into her life. Beverly says Morgan helps her in many ways, including applying pressure on her leg to help with neuropathy pain, helping with balance and snuggling with her back-to-back when she is cold.

Beverly has been so impressed with ADW that she now helps train dogs as part of the organization’s Warrior Canine Connection program, which teaches veterans how to train service dogs for other veterans with disabilities. ADW trains dogs for a wide variety of services, including autism, seizure response, mobility, medical alert, social therapy and crisis response.

I have a life I didn't thing I'd ever have again. My dogs have reopened my world. Beverly Francisco James, ADW client/volunteer, Assistant Dogs of the West

Enterprise Bank & Trust is a longtime supporter of ADW. The organization is one of several to benefit from a collective investment of nearly a half million dollars to New Mexico nonprofits through the Enterprise Bank & Trust Foundation. Enterprise associates also volunteer regularly with ADW.

“Enterprise volunteers are a backbone of support to our staff and our canines. Their contributions of time and resources are invaluable, and we are deeply grateful for the many hours and donations they give to ADW,” says ADW CEO and President Linda Milanesi. “Not only does Enterprise provide annual sponsorship support but also financial acumen and expertise, which is invaluable to us.”

People like Beverly know the direct impact this kind of corporate support can have on the lives of those in need.

“The support of organizations like Enterprise helps get trained dogs out into the world and directly impacts the lives of so many people,” she says. “Having service dogs has expanded my life in so many ways. Now I can go places and do things like walking, biking and traveling across the country. I have a life I didn’t think I’d ever have again. My dogs have reopened my world.”

Assistance Dogs of the West, 2023 Community Impact Report