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Paws for Cause Puts Pets in Unusual Places

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RALEIGH — There is some good news for disabledNorth Carolinians. The organization known as "Paws with a Cause" hasputits first service dog to work in the state and the dog is working righthere in the Triangle.

It's not every day you see a dog pulling a wheelchair through the hallsof a high school, but then again this is no ordinary dog. Dickens is aworking pup. He helps Becky Bennis live the life of a normal 17-year-old.She has Juvenile Rhumatoid Arthritis and she says Dickens has made somebig changes in her life.

Dickens does more than just pull Becky to and from class. He's there topick up her keys when she drops them or to help her take off hercoat when it gets too warm. Dog Trainer Jan Santel says taking care ofBecky is Dickens' job.

It's a tough job that affords Dickens little rest, except duringclassroom lectures when he manages to catch a little shut-eye. Santel saysdogs such as Dickens are highly trained so that they are welcome anywhere.

Bennis says Dickens' training pays off at home as well as in school.

Reaching for independence and dignity is what this partnership isabout. A teenager puts her trust and faith in an animal that's trained tonever let her down.

Bennis says it's worth it.

"Paws with a Cause" is a national group that trains service dogs. Itcosts 25-thousand dollars to train just one dog. Right now, there's awaiting list for people who want dogs in North Carolina.

WRAL's Betsy Sykes reporting

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