WORCESTER (CBS) – For Jessica Kensky, life looks much different than it did two months ago.
Jessica and her husband, Patrick Downes, were newlyweds at the time of the Boston Marathon bombings. Both lost their left legs in the attack. In the darkness of their recovery, they found joy in an adorable furry friend, who is also a highly trained service dog named Rescue.
“He just makes me smile, and I cannot imagine not having him,” Jessica says with a smile that lights up the room.
Today, Jessica and Patrick brought Rescue to meet the Worcester Firefighters who named him, through a donation to “Pawsitively Strong.” Rescue is named in honor of fallen firefighter Jon Davies, who died two years ago, and was on the Rescue Squad and rode Rescue One. The Pawsitively Strong fund was created by NEADS Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans to provide service dogs to bombing survivors.
“It’s one of those things you don’t have words for, but you have chills because you know the symbolism of it all,” Patrick says. “To know that Rescue was named after someone who gave his life, to save people, like the people who were willing to sacrifice their lives for us, it’s a very humbling feeling.
Jessica showed the firefighters how Rescue is always there to help. “He can fetch things for me, he can open doors, turn off lights. He provides me with more independence. I feel more comfortable. If I were to fall, he can brace next to me and help me get back up.” Rescue can also open the refrigerator, bring her a blanket, and find her phone.
Jessica is the first bombing survivor to receive a dog from Pawsitively Strong. She always wanted a dog, but as an oncology nurse with a very busy schedule, she hadn’t had enough time to take care of a pet. When she heard about the program, she immediately signed up. The NEADS service dogs are first trained by inmates, then clients like Jessica spend two weeks with the dogs at the NEADS campus to learn how to work with them.
Now, they are inseparable. Patrick says he can see how Rescue relaxes Jessica. “It’s incredible right now for us, and he will be a gift for all the years that we have him.”