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Local man receives four-legged, life-changing partner


Lake Stevens resident Steve Wilkie is finding life a lot brighter these days, thanks to his new home therapy dog, Mario, from Summit Assistance Dogs in Anacortes. Steve and Mario are one of eight life-changing partnerships celebrated at Summit's annual graduation ceremony on Jan. 12 in Bellevue.

When Wilkie was 27 years old and on his way to work, some criminals attacked him and left him with a life-threatening Traumatic Brain Injury. He is unable to walk or care for himself. His home therapy dog Mario encourages him to reach out and interact with others, along with providing unconditional love and companionship.

Wilkie's parents learned to work with Mario during a week-long training program at Summit's facility in Anacortes before they took him home to settle into their new lives together. They hope Mario will motivate their son to learn and use signals to communicate.

"We at Summit get such great joy from knowing we help change people's lives," said Sue Meinzinger, Summit's founder and executive director. "Our clients who receive our dogs inspire us again and again. We have matched, trained and graduated 74 of these life-changing teams, and we still love what we do."

Summit Assistance Dogs is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 to provide highly skilled mobility hearing and professional therapy dogs for people living with disabilities or needing the comfort of a therapy dog. Learn more at


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