A Woman’s Best Friend

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By JOE ANTOSHAK

jan­toshak@ches­pub.com

— Krys­tal Greco still re­mem­bers the first time she couldn’t feel her legs.

It was March 7, 2010. She was in the car, and her par­ents were driv­ing her to the hos­pi­tal. About 30 min­utes be­fore, she’d felt an “ex­plo­sion of pain” in her back while get­ting dressed after a shower. Doc­tors would later tell her that a disc had slipped and rup­tured for seem­ingly no rea­son — a case un­like any they’d ever seen in some­one so young. She was 14.

“I re­mem­ber, on 95, as we were driv­ing to [Ne­mours/ Al­fred I.] duPont, push­ing

NORTH EAST

my leg this way and that and not be­ing able to feel it and not be­ing able to move it,” Greco, now 21, said. “And that’s when I started pan­ick­ing.”

Greco is par­a­lyzed from the waist down, and in­evitably that’s al­tered some as­pects of her life. In 2013, to help man­age these changes, she part­nered with a 2-year-old ser­vice dog named Ted­die, who’s been by her side ever since.

Even in the realm of ser­vice dogs, Ted­die, a labrador re­triever now 5 years old, is ex­cep­tional. Greco sub­mit­ted their story to the Amer­i­can Ken­nel Club for a con­test ear­lier this year, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­cently an­nounced that it will honor Ted­die as its ser­vice dog of the year.

The bond Greco and Ted­die share sur­passes that of most peo­ple and their pets. Ted­die knows, for ex­am­ple, when Greco is about to get one of her pierc­ing, 30-sec- ond mi­graines, and will act up when she senses it com­ing.

When she feels that Greco’s legs will soon cramp and spasm, she’ll lay her body across them as a sort of liv­ing heat­ing blan­ket, to loosen the mus­cles.

And of course, when she senses that Greco is in a bad mood, she’ll act es­pe­cially goofy to try to cheer her up.

“She def­i­nitely has her own sense of hu­mor,” Greco said.

Just be­fore 2:30 on Monday af­ter­noon, Greco stopped mid-sen­tence to tell Ted­die, who was ly­ing near her feet un­der a ta­ble in the Ce­cil Col­lege ad­mis­sions of­fice, to go ahead and pick up the crayon the dog was mess­ing around with.

“She’s try­ing to pick this up, and I kept hear­ing her drop it back on the floor,” Greco said. “That’s the kind of thing she’ll do when I’m up­set. She’ll go and she’ll pick some­thing up that I haven’t asked her to do, be­cause she knows I get ex­cited when she does it, and she gets a treat. Noth­ing I’m up­set about now, she’s just bored.”

Greco works as a cus­tomer ser­vice em­ployee here in the ad­mis­sions of­fice. She han­dles on­line in­quiries, an­swers the phone and is, gen­er­ally speak­ing, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the col­lege. She lives in North East with her mom and step-dad, but she con­sid­ers these co­work­ers her sec­ond fam­ily.

Be­cause she is so open about her story, and be­cause she grad­u­ated with three as­so­ci­ates de­grees in May (equine stud­ies, ac­count­ing and busi­ness man­age­ment), she and Ted­die are well-known at Ce­cil Col­lege.

In the fu­ture, Greco would like to earn a Bach­e­lors de­gree in busi­ness man­age­ment through Ce­cil’s part­ner­ship with Univer- sity of Mary­land Univer­sity Col­lege, which al­lows her to take nec­es­sary cour­ses on the North East cam­pus. She’d also like to get more in­volved with high-pro­file para-dres­sage — an in­ter­est of hers that in the past has drawn me­dia at­ten­tion not only from the Whig, but also CNN.

Ide­ally, she’d like some- day to com­bine these pas­sions.

Un­til she starts classes again in Oc­to­ber, how­ever, she’s just fo­cus­ing on her job at the col­lege. At the mo­ment, she’s too busy to think that far in the fu­ture.

Of course, there is one cer­tainty in all this, and that’s Ted­die, with her every step of the way.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOE ANTOSHAK

In the three years they’ve been part­nered, North East res­i­dent Krys­tal Greco and her ser­vice dog Ted­die, who is now a na­tional award win­ner, have formed a spe­cial bond.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOE ANTOSHAK

Ted­die watches Greco, 21, dur­ing a photo shoot at Ce­cil Col­lege on Monday.

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