Reporting Aside

January 26

Waterville woman needs service dog to guide her

Bobbi Jo Nadeau, recalling past terrors and current ailments, hopes the dog will help her avoid getting lost and detect the onset of seizures.

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click image to enlarge

HELP WANTED: Bobbi Jo Nadeau of Waterville has a traumatic brain injury and related seizures and anxiety. She needs a service dog to help her and others identify when a seizure is coming and help her find her way home when she goes out and gets confused and lost.

Staff photo by David Leaming

He went to jail; she went to the hospital. Later, he convinced her to get back together.

After that, the beatings got worse.

“I’d have to ask to go to the bathroom. It was so demeaning. He would use, basically, torture devices on me to punish me. He wanted the house to be spit shined. If I didn’t clean the toilet like he wanted, I had to clean it with a toothbrush.”

She said some people criticize her for not leaving him at the time.

“I was too scared. I was too scared to put my hand on my door, let alone open it.”

He eventually left her, but the physical and emotional scars did not.

“Men terrify me, and if they are drunk, forget it. I don’t think the nightmare will ever go away. I’ve said more than once, I’ve made a lot of strides, but I think my ex will be with me for the rest of my life.”

The one man who does not terrify her is her live-in boyfriend, Paul Doherty, 41. He is kind and sympathetic. He understands, as he also is a product of abuse.

“One thing he always says to me — and he’s always right — is, ‘You gotta have faith,’” Nadeau says.

As we sit in their small, warm apartment, where photographs of the couple hang on all the walls and their black-and-white cat, Daisy, tiptoes about, they tell me the story of how they met at the Waterville Social Club three years ago and instantly bonded.

Doherty, who also is disabled, suffers from post traumatic stress and borderline personality disorder and is bipolar. When they met, he was suicidal, he said, and had a plan to end his life.

That has all changed.

“We kind of saved each other,” Nadeau says.

One thing that drew them together was a common dream they had while growing up of living in a quiet cabin in the woods, with a dog lying before a roaring fire.

“We know that we’re probably not going to have it,” Nadeau says. “But Paul says he will make sure we do, even if he has to build it out of Lincoln logs or Popsicle sticks.”

She smiles. A smile so wide it lights up her whole face.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 26 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at

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