ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -In the winter of 2006 during 2006 Tammy Hiltner made her daily commute on Interstate 94 as she saw signs of a storm brewing. It took her about one hour drive from Freeport, Minnesota, to her work located in St. Michael in Wright County.

Shortly after getting to work her supervisor informed her that she should head home before the weather became worse.

A few minutes after leaving, near the lower end of the I-94 ramp, a piece of ice was able to send Hiltner sliding through two lanes before crashing into the median’s shoulder. The back portion of the 1994 Explorer was facing the fence, while she was in the direction of traffic coming towards her.

Hiltner remembers a semi-truck on the lane of passing that was coming towards her. He started slowing down and his trailer to veer towards Hiltner.

“I remember saying, “Lord I, if it’s my turn, then I’ll take it. …’ I’m at peace.” Hiltner, now 60 was able to recall.


The trailer struck her and pushed the Explorer towards the median fence, and then snapped Hiltner forward and causing her face to strike the wheel. The airbags didn’t deploy.

Since the incident, Hiltner has had multiple operations, mainly in her back. One of the surgeries she underwent left Hiltner with neuropathy sciatica along with spinal stenosis. Damage to the nerves in her hips down cause discomfort when sitting or standing for long hours, and sleeping for her can be difficult.

She was fitted with an spinal stimulator placed in her back to stop pain signals being transmitted out of her back to her brain and she battled a staph-related infection caused by the device. She may have passed away according to doctors.

“My back will never be the identical,” said Hiltner, who lives at Alexandra, Minnesota.

In February 2021, the 4-year-old Black British laboratory named Magnum became hers.

Tammy Hiltner holds her service dog, Magnum, by the Paws. Magnum assists her in daily chores around the house, and can help ease anxiety.

Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Magnum is a certified Mobility certified service dog who has been trained by Can Do Canines in New Hope, Minnesota.

He aids Hiltner in everyday tasks like switching off lights as well as opening her door and retrieving items at request if she should fall. He also offers assistance with mobility which could enable her to stand. He can even help her take off her jacket by pulling at the sleeves.

“He’s my stress relief. He takes away my stress and keeps me occupied,” Hiltner said. “I find myself feeling more confident to complete tasks. I wouldn’t feel so sure if he were gone.”


Her husband is truck driver, and her son residing over one hour, Magnum is the perfect business to lend assistance.

Hiltner as well as her partner started exploring service dogs after the every day tasks became too painful. They discovered that a lot of places were beyond their budget.

Then they learned of Can Do Canines which provides service dogs at no cost along with a $50 application cost.

Can Do Canines is “a service dog organization that is dedicated to improving your quality of life of children and adults with disabilities by forming mutually beneficial partnerships that include specially-trained dogs” stated Caren Hansen. Hansen is Can Do Canines’ communications and marketing manager.

Hiltner as well as her spouse felt they sounded trustworthy and were impressed by the history of the business which is why they applied.

The client service team determines the particular skills can be performed by a dog to aid a client in understanding the extent of the need.

On June. 26 2021, Tammy Hiltner and Magnum earned their certificates as a certified Mobility Assist Team. Team.

Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

“Several aspects, such as interviews, recommendations and more. are a part of the process of deciding whether customers are accepted by the company,” Hansen said.


“They begin training them around five weeks old, and continue to train them up to two and a half years old,” Hiltner said. “They offer you an animal kennel, food and the cape. They are there to help you.”

Hansen states that selecting the right dog for each client is a meticulous, and thoughtful procedure.

“We conduct certain tests for every dog in order to discover what their passion is. A dog that is hearing for instance is usually one who is highly attentive and eager as they are working continuously,” Hansen said. “We are proud of not just giving our dogs their own voice in how they will become as well as in tailoring each dog to meet its specific client’s requirements.”

Can Do Canines trains their dogs in five areas of disability such as hearing, mobility seizures, diabetes, and autism.

Since Magnum came into the world of Hiltner, Magnum was a miraculous worker for Hiltner. At night, Hiltner was experiencing the sensation of shaking her feet and legs when Magnum was able to get into bed and laid the head of his leg.

“To today, ever since he committed that crime I’ve not experienced any foot tremors. None. I’m not sure what the man did,” Hiltner said. “There’s an innate quality about him that makes people want to know more about him. He has a aura around the man that draws people attracted to him.”