A Woman’s Best Friend
— 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
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.
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.
Teddie watches Greco, 21, during a photo shoot at Cecil College on Monday.