In June 2010, Phelps, 59, of West Lafayette, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. Since then, he's become an advocate of awareness for all forms of dementia.
The 14-month-old German Shepherd has led Phelps to his latest crusade as he thinks such a canine companion is essential for anyone with early- to mid-stage dementia.
"This dog has changed everything," he said. "It's a psychological thing, I know it is. He hasn't cured me of this disease, but it just works."
Before Sam, going to Walmart was the scariest thing in the world to Phelps and something he rarely ever did. Now he'll go without really needing anything, because he's confident with Sam by his side.