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DeAnn Runge had her service dog, Iken, for six years before he died of cancer. She is hoping to be matched to another dog this spring.

A gift of independence

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DeAnn Runge of Alexandria was a senior in high school when she set her sights on getting a dog. She was looking for more than just companionship - she was seeking greater independence.

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Runge suffers from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.

There are varying degrees of SMA, and Runge says she's "in the middle" of the spectrum. She has never been able to walk and has limited upper body strength.

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Tara Bitzan
Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.
(320) 763-1211
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