Oneida IV could tell what Celeste Grotsky could not, that the attack of vertigo a few weeks ago that caused the Northland woman to get down on the floor to prevent a fall had not yet passed.

Oneida IV could tell what Celeste Grotsky could not, that the attack of vertigo a few weeks ago that caused the Northland woman to get down on the floor to prevent a fall had not yet passed.

As Grotsky, who has multiple sclerosis and occasionally gets blinding headaches, sought to get up, the yellow Labrador retriever with kind brown eyes first put a paw on her hand and then her head on the woman's arm.

Although it's Grotsky who is supposed to issue the commands in this relationship, Oneida IV - Odie for short - was clearly saying, "Stay!"

"I realized that she realized something was going on with me," Grotsky said last week.

When she related the incident to the people at Canine Companions for Independence in Delaware, from whom she got Oneida IV in November, no one expressed the slightest surprise that one of their assistance dogs could develop that kind of sensitivity to what was happening with their person.

"It's like a whole new world has opened up to me," Grotsky, 51, said of the difference having the trained service dog has made in her life.

Grotsky was visiting her parents, Lora Hamblin, 75, and John Hamblin, 81, at the Laurels of Norworth in Worthington last week, accompanied by the popular Odie.

Grotsky was born in Kankakee, Ill. Her family moved to the Columbus area when she was 3 years old, and her father was a police officer in Westerville for a time, until little Celeste one night found his gun and started playing with it. At the behest of his wife, John Hamblin found another career, one in lumber sales. He retired in 1970.

Lora Hamblin was a teacher for Columbus City Schools for 50 years.

"She had four daughters but she raised and loved thousands of kids over the years," Grotsky said.

After graduating from Mifflin High School, Grotsky said she wanted to become an attorney, but a field trip to a television and radio broadcasting studio led her to attend the American School of Broadcasting in 1980. Grotsky broke into radio as an on-air personality with what was then WTOO-AM in Bellefontaine and later become a news reporter with WDLR-AM in Delaware.

She moved on to various other kinds of work, including a job that required a lot of typing, which left her with severe carpal tunnel syndrome.

She was also for a time an attitude behavior analyst for the state of Ohio, working with children who have autism. A nephew of Grotsky's, the son of a sister who died in a car accident, has autism. It was during this period, Grotsky said, that she encountered a youngster who had a service dog from Canine Companions for Independence.

Founded in 1975 and based in Santa Rosa, Calif., Canine Companions "is the largest nonprofit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people," according to the organization's website.

The Delaware location where Grotsky worked with Oneida IV is one of five regional training centers.

In 1997, she began experiencing severe migraine headaches, which led to her being diagnosed with MS, although she did not experience symptoms for several years.

"I have trouble with small things," she said. "Light things, I drop."

Grotsky said she's dropped so many coffee pots, her husband, Ben, who has been with the Columbus transportation department for 20 years, despairs of keeping one intact around the house.

Forced by her physical problems to stop working for the state in 2008, Grotsky said she wrote to Canine Companions for Independence the following year, recalling the help a service dog had been to the young boy with autism. Following an application and interview process similar to trying to get into college, Grotsky said she was put on a waiting list. In September, she was notified that she would be in the October class.

During the intensive two-week training period, members of the class initially work with various dogs before settling on the one they want. Two instructors work with the members of the class on the commands their dogs must learn and obey.

Oneida IV was "puppy-raised" by a local couple and named for the wife's small Ohio hometown. A variety of volunteers, such as Nancy and John Draper, take Canine Companions for Independence puppies into their homes to "provide specially bred puppies a safe home, take them to obedience classes, serve up a healthy diet, provide socialization opportunities and give lots of love," states.

This is done with the knowledge they must one day give up these dogs.

"Graduation is a sad day," Grotsky recalled.

The people who raised the puppies lead them into an auditorium and turn them over to the person they will assist for, on average, the next eight years.

There's not a dry eye in the place, according to Grotsky.

"This is a blessing," she said, looking down into her yellow Lab's loving eyes. "Because I have trouble carrying things, I can't go to the store by myself."

With Oneida IV on the job, Grotsky can do more than just go to the store.

"I can go to the mall," she said. "My husband hates the mall."