Megan and Lila, her new assistance dog, are forming a wonderful bond
Megan Schmidt, 22, is a graphic arts specialist in the college’s Marketing department. Originally from Paynesville, Minnesota, Megan graduated from her local high school in 2012. She attended Ridgewater College as a PSEO student and went on to earn two degrees at Dakota County Technical College, an A.A.S. in Graphic Design Technology and an A.A.S. in Multimedia & Web Design.
“I make things,” Megan said when asked about her duties on the job. “Things like postcards, posters, flyers and banners—and I work with an awesome team to help advertise our school and events.”
Megan noted that the people on her team are her favorite part of her job. “The atmosphere you work in and the people you work with definitely make a huge difference in the work you produce.”
Many people on the DCTC campus have seen Megan with her new assistance dog, Lila, an almost 2-year-old terrier mix with a dab of lab. Megan reported that Lila is super-sweet, attentive and loves to play with her ball. “She likes to sneak around the cat’s food bowl to grab an extra bite to eat,” Megan added.
At the age of three, Megan began losing her hearing and her parents got her a hearing aid. Her hearing loss worsened as she grew older and in 2007 she received a cochlear implant. Six years later, she received a second implant.
“It’s like wearing a computer processor for each ear,” Megan said. “The implants interpret sounds for me and I can hear quite well. I take them out at night when I go to sleep. That’s where Lila helps out a lot.”
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants do the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.
More about Lila
Q. Why do you have a service dog like Lila?
A. I am technically deaf so Lila acts as my ears to hear things I otherwise struggle to hear or sounds I might not notice.
Q. Where did you get Lila?
A. I got Lila through a really cool organization called Can Do Canines.
Q. What are Lila’s service skills and training?
A. She’s trained in basic skills such as sit and come, but is also trained to alert me by touch (putting front paws on my leg) to sounds. While it can vary for each person, our sounds are fire alarms, timers and door knocks. We are also working on alerts to dropped items. Everything is a continuous cycle of progress. We’re still getting used to each other and building a trusting relationship.
Q. What do you like most about Lila?
A. That she is there. Sometimes it drives me crazy because she follows me everywhere and stares at me all the time, but that’s her job—to be aware of what’s going on around me. That takes quite a bit of pressure off of me to have to be constantly aware; she allows me to relax a bit more than I normally would.
Q. How should people you meet behave around Lila?
A. I know it’s hard, because she’s so cute, but ignore her as best you can—she is working and needs to be focused on that. And please ask me before touching her.
More about Megan
Megan has a philosophical outlook regarding her long-range life goals. “When I was younger, my parents would always say, ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.’ That stuck with me as I grew up and so I don’t really make plans—I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Life changes too much to try to limit myself to something I may have thought I wanted years ago.”
Megan’s other family members besides Lila and her mom and dad include three older sisters—two of them are married and a third is getting married in less than a month. She also has two nephews and one niece. She has a cat named Gaborik, who was already named after a hockey player when she got him (the real Gaborik makes $6 million a year in the NHL; the cat, not nearly as much).
“Lila gets along with Gaborik pretty well except when Gaborik swats at her with his paw,” Megan said. “Then Lila just turns and looks at me with a questioning face.”
Megan keeps busy off the job by spending a lot of time hanging out with the youth group at her church. She serves as a youth leader at Sunday school, movie nights, games nights, all-nighters, school events and you name it. When she’s not with her youth peeps, she likes to read historical fiction and pin all kinds of things on Pinterest. She also loves to cook when she finds the time.
Megan Schmidt | 21 Answers
- Favorite season: Spring is probably my favorite because everything comes back to life, and I also know that I won’t freeze when I go outside for at least another five months.
- Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, quicksand, etc.): I love the sky—sunrises, sunsets, stars, clouds, all the colors—it’s a ginormous canvas that never, ever looks the same!
- Favorite sport or physical activity: I’m all for a game ultimate Frisbee or flag football.
- Favorite bird: I always liked Kevin from Up; she’s a nice bird, plus her name is Kevin.
- Place you would most like to visit: There are so many places I want to go, but I really want to go to coastal cities in Greece, Italy or Spain—for the climate, food and history.
- Favorite holiday besides World UFO Day: National Donut Day or National Pizza Day, but really, who needs a holiday to celebrate those things?
- Favorite animal: My love for The Lion King runs deep—lions.
- Favorite snack: I’m a little kid at heart so the answer is Goldfish crackers.
- Favorite band or performing artist: Such a difficult question! Twenty One Pilots is at the top of my list.
- Favorite restaurant besides Chipotle: If it can’t be Chipotle, then I’ll pick Panera.
- Favorite food: A lot of my favorites would fall into Italian or Mexican varieties. ¹
- Favorite day of the week: I like Wednesdays—it’s a day that ends with time with the youth group, worship, games and fun. While it’s often a long day, it’s refreshing and uplifting.
- Favorite TV show: I would watch Doctor Who all day, any day.
- Favorite movie: I love most anything with superheroes (think Marvel), but I also love the period drama adaptations of novels written by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
- One thing you most want to accomplish: I’ve never been on a plane or been out of the country—I want to remedy that.
- Most precious possession: Access to music. Ironically, I have a hard time with silence.
- First thing you would buy if you won a $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot: I feel like it would be food. Food is a good way to celebrate. Then I would go hide while I figured out how to handle all that money.
- Dream occupation besides gunslinger: I wish I were an excellent marksman, however, if I were a better musician (see answer 20) or singer—I’d love to be in a band. Maybe I can just design album covers and T-shirts instead.
- Person you would most like to meet (or avoid): There are so many singer/songwriters that I’d love to meet and chat with—Jon Foreman and Mike Donehey are two—but I am terrible at striking up conversations with new people, so I would most likely end up just staring at them awkwardly.
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: I would love to finally master my guitar-playing skills.
- Favorite novel: There are so many good ones, but the ones that have stuck with me the longest are Alice in Wonderland, To Kill a Mockingbird and Jane Eyre.
¹ Jeff Siltala-Choban, Marketing’s project manager, sits closest to Megan and Lila in the department’s office. He has taken a shine to Lila, but she merely tolerates him. When Megan was at a loss to narrow down her favorite dish, Jeff recommended Mexican-style meat and vegetable stew. Megan thought she might give it a try.
To learn more about Marketing at Inver Hills, contact:
Inver Hills Director of Marketing