Relationships. Caring. Understanding.
Ice hockey. And dogs to love. How we cope.
Amy Conard is tiny. But don’t let her size fool you! Her stature is larger than life. This 5’2” woman would raise her 6’2” boyfriend Frank Rosenberry in and out of his wheelchair like a champion weightlifter. She approached her role of ALS caregiver the way she lives her life — with resolve, determination, and grit. Amy and their two sons, Frankie and Johnny, as well as Amy’s son, Justin, all pitched in with caring for Frank for the eight brief months he lived with ALS. From transferring, to feeding, to visits to the Chapter’s ALS Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Amy never stopped. Not for a moment.
Frank’s ALS journey was swift and very painful for the family. They were faced with new challenges daily. “But, once we had a new plan I would relax and tell myself, ‘I can do this for the rest of my life.’ Never did I imagine it would end so quickly. ALS was like a freight train that ran through our home,” recalls Amy.
The family’s Philadelphia Walk to Defeat ALS Team, Kiss Our Dad’s ALS, brought together Frankie’s ice hockey team in full force. Both boys have grown a lot since this photo was taken three years ago. The family continues to support the ALS mission and will continue to do so for a long time. Amy exuberantly states, “The ALS Association was absolutely amazing. We would have been completely lost without their support.”
The life of a caregiver for a person with ALS is not easy. And, in addition to being Frank’s primary caregiver, Amy had other roles to play. One was full of love — taking care of her three sons and two daughters. The other was heartbreaking — Amy’s sister succumbed to a drug overdose in May of 2018. Amy and Frankie went into her sister’s house to pick up some belongings and there, around the corner, appeared Rudy, a dog like no other.
Grab the Dog!
Just as they were leaving, Amy yelled to Frankie, “Grab the dog!”
Frankie was excited. “SERIOUSLY?????” he asked. “Only for ONE night!!!” replied Amy. On the drive home, Amy saw a part of her son that had disappeared after the death of his dad. She saw hope, happiness, and love. “I recognized that boy. I missed that boy!” said Amy. They named their new dog, Rudy, and Amy emphatically states, “Rudy, has been the best therapy for all of us. He rescued us. We didn’t rescue him.” This dog has helped the family cope with the loss of their loved one.
Frankie now plays ice hockey for two teams; club, and high school. And Johnny is in the 5th grade and absolutely loves rock climbing and gaming. The family now has two dogs, Rudy and Otis, and they are the best therapy ever. Amy and her kids miss Frank every day. They miss his humor, his zest for living, and his love. But Rudy gave them back some of that love they had lost.
Frank Rosenberry rode off into the sunset on December 1, 2017. Some days can be difficult for Amy and her sons. However, they have a very special relationship. Dogs really do care. There is evidence to show that dogs experience love…and in this case, the feeling is obviously quite mutual.
For more information on coping with ALS and loss, please contact our care services team at 215–643–5434 and be sure to click here to read our Chapter’s tools found here. Find more information about ALS care and learn how you can support our mission, including through the Walk to Defeat ALS, at www.alsphiladelphia.org