Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Wanda Woodrum, of Pleasant Grove, with 3-year-old Jacob Averett on her lap, gathers with her family and friends Thursday to meet Barnsley, the ambassador dog for Canine Assistants, at Smith’s in Provo. Woodrum will receive her dog in January 2013 when she travels to Alpharetta, Ga., for a two-week training camp.
Utah woman chosen to receive canine companion
Donation » Dog from Canine Assistants will help Pleasant Grove woman with daily tasks.
First Published Nov 29 2012 04:36 pm • Last Updated Mar 06 2013 11:34 pm

Provo • Growing up in Georgia as a 16-year-old, Wanda Woodrum was ready to graduate high school early and aspired to be an actress in 1974.

"I was invincible, I was 16," she said.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

A major car accident stifled her plans and left her badly burned and missing a leg, but she has tried not to let her injuries overshadow her optimism to live a full life. . Now 38 years later, the 55-year-old Pleasant Grove woman is getting new help in the form of a four-legged friend who will assist in daily tasks.

On Thursday, three organizations presented Woodrum with a plaque honoring her as a service dog recipient during a ceremony at a Smith’s Food & Drug store. The gift means Woodrum will be given a brand new puppy in January, when she will travel to Georgia to train with her companion. .

Woodrum was driving her Volkswagen Bug on a winter day in 1974 when a construction gravel truck crashed into her and caused her gas tank to explode. The car went up in flames.

Woodrum was disabled with burns on more than 60 percent of her body and had to have her left leg amputated. She spent three months in the hospital but was determined to Utah and start college at Brigham Young University — a goal she achieved.

It wasn’t until after she arrived at Utah to attend BYU that she realized she no longer could do everything she used to.

When the first snowfall happened during her freshman year, Woodrum wanted to run across the field, but with a wooden limb for a leg, it was all but impossible until friends helped out.

"My roommates let me put my arms around them and they held me up and ran me across the field," she said.

That was a defining moment for her and a reality check.

story continues below
story continues below

She realized she couldn’t run, dance or do many of the things she wanted to. She had to reevaluate her goals. She changed her major to elementary education and became a teacher, working in the Granite School District for awhile. Her health has deteriorated as the years have passed by. The burns on her body affected her immune system and brought on new allergies and increased nerve damage.

"My disability has kind of increased over the years," Woodrum said.

Through the Canine Assistants program, which is sponsored by Smith’s and the Milk-Bone brand, Woodrum will soon have four more legs to help her fetch things she can’t.

Sitting next to her in the store on Thursday was a full-grown golden retriever ambassador dog named Barnsley. The dog she will get may be a golden retriever, a golden doodle, or a mix, but she along with about 15 of her closest family and friends who showed up to congratulate her are all looking forward to it.

The cost of training a dog is about $20,000, which includes teaching the animal specific tasks such as picking up dropped items, opening doors or turning on lights.

Lynn Engum, a volunteer and certified trainer with the nonprofit Canine Assistants, said donating one of 70 service dogs a year nationwide is part of a needs-based program for children and adults with disabilities.

Marsha Gilford, Smith’s vice president of public affairs, said the program began with donating a dog to Logan for the city’s police K-9 unit. Fourteen years later, the program has expanded to include donations to individuals in need.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.