10
10
20

Service Dog

$450 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 9 people in 14 months
From the time I was born, I’ve been a fighter.  I was born with closed spina bifida. There’s many characteristics of closed spina bifida also known as spina bifida occulta or spinal dysraphism. In my case I have an open hole at the bottom of my spine called a dermal sinus tract, and instead of having the nerves at the bottom of the spine end like a horses tail mine are bundled together in a mass called a lipomyelomeningocele. So at six weeks of age a surgery was performed to correct the spinal deformity. Throughout my 61 years multiple orthopedic and neurological issues have arisen along with numerous surgeries. I was able to have a professional career and enjoy what life has to offer until 2010. Beginning in 2010 I started to experience increasing weakness in my left leg and difficulty maintaining my balance while walking. On medical advice in September of 2011 I underwent a spinal cord de-teethering surgery along with a laminectomy. Which left me unable to return to my profession. Since then I have also been diagnosed with severe osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and am a breast cancer survivor. My poor balance and left sided weakness continues to worsen. Resulting in frequent falls, fear of injury and lack of confidence.


I am now in the process of being matched with a service dog. My new companion will help me with tasks by picking things up for me, bringing me things so that I do not loose my balance reaching for items. He or she will also be trained to help me when I fall, and to stabilize when I need to use stairs, get up/down on a curb, walk on gravel or uneven ground etc. And I would be much happier with a dog then my current cane at my side!


A service dog is an expensive endeavor but one that will help me to regain my confidence, engulf me with love and always be by my side. The projected cost to train my dog is $8500 so any amount you can spare will be greatly appreciated.


Denise
+ Read More
For those who have been following my story or if you are just tuning in for the first time I just turned nine months old. And all ready accurately and eagerly performing several duties in my role as a service dog! Since my last update, I have with great confidence proceeded through the TSA, negotiated the concourses and boarded an airplane at the Charlotte International Airport during one of my training sessions. I also accompanied Denise during her cancer survivor appointments at Wake Forest Medical Center, which included being patient during a mammogram and ultrasound.

I’m continuing to refine my retrieval skills for important objects and currently learning how to assist with the laundry( https://youtu.be/JXPnbRIVVgY). Denise is patiently awaiting the day that my bone plates are fully developed so that I can be fitted with a mobility harness. Once fitted, I’ll be trained in providing stability and assist with her with her balance issues.

Since Denise was unable to find a non-profit group that would assist her in my training, she is trying to raise funds to pay for my very, expensive training costs. Gratefully, several of her good friends and family have donated directly to my education/training fund. Still more is needed so that I can am able to complete my training process.

Guinness
Learning to do laundry
+ Read More


I’m now seven months old and turning into a large, handsome fellow with big paws to fill in the future. My trainer, Kim is very pleased with my confident, unflurried personality during our public access training sessions. Together, Denise and I work on tasks daily such as learning to retrieve certain items that she may need such as her cell phone, cane, remotes and handbag. Each time I correctly retrieve the item and place it in her hand I’m rewarded with lots of love and a special tasty treat. I don’t know which I adore more all the loving or the tasty treat!
Each week during my training session with Kim, she ups the ante in my goals of becoming a certified service dog. To date we have trained several times at the Asheville Mall, Target and Ingles learning to avoid all types of distractions of children, sounds, people attempting to pet me and those tasty crumbs on the floor.
I’m also learning patience! Something that is very hard for a seven month old puppy such as me. Sleeping, un-noticed, curled up under a table for an hour or so while Denise enjoys a meal or conversation is something that I’m still learning patience with. So far one of my best talents is sleeping the day away at the office on days we go to work.
In the near future I will be tackling the skills of public transit including of boarding and de-boarding shuttle busses, trollies, trains and negotiating the TSA at the airport. Who knew there was so much to learn to be a full-fledged service dog?
All of this training does comes with a huge time commitment and financial cost. Denise has gratefully taken on the time commitment to guide me through the two year training process and is doing her best to keep up with the financial aspect but is seeking your help in meeting the monthly fee of the $700 training cost. Any amount you can donate towards my training would be greatly appreciated.

Guinness
Service Dog in Training
Handbag Retrial
+ Read More
The local newspaper is helping to spread the word about Guinness's journey to become a service dog. Unfortunately, the link doesn't work so I've copied and pasted the article.

Service Dog in Training may be a lifesaver


When Denise Butkowski’s spina bifida began affecting her balance, she knew something had to give.

For most of her life, the birth defect had not hindered her life or her job as a physical therapist. But as Butkowski, now 61, got older, mobility and balance issues became more challenging. By 2011, she was no longer able to work and qualified for Social Security disability payments.

After plenty of research, the Waynesville woman learned that a service dog might be her best bet to continue living independently. That research led her to a breeder in southwest Virginia who had a reputation for successfully matching those in need of a service dog with the right canine partner.
“My new companion will help me with tasks by picking things up for me, bringing me things so that I do not lose my balance reaching for items, Butkowski wrote on her GoFundMe page. “He or she will also be trained to help me when I fall, and to stabilize when I need to use stairs, get up/down on a curb, walk on gravel or uneven ground.”

The dog chosen for Butkowski was Guiness, a puppy that is half Labrador and half English Golden Retriever.

“She selected him because of his bone structure and personality,” Butkowski said.

It will take two years to fully train Guiness and the estimated cost is $10,000, an expense that is hard to cover for a person with limited savings and who is on a fixed income.

Butkowski withdrew funds from her retirement account to augment the $5,000 she hopes to raise from her GoFundMe account.

Butkowski picked up her dog at seven weeks of age and has been training weekly with Kim Brophy at the Dog Door Behavior Center.

​The mission of all who work at the Dog Door is to improve the lives of people and their dogs through the education, said Brophy.

Unless the animal being trained is specifically to be a service animal, Brophy said the business does not endorse idea that “dogs are here to serve us.”

A behavior center can be considered family-dog mediation, Brophy explained.

“We essentially look at it as two parties, two species, each that have their side of the story with needs and abilities,” she said. “We try to get the parties together to work as a team. We deal with partnerships on the rocks, so to speak and reconcile differences.”

On flip side, Brophy said training sessions can take the human-canine relationship to an entirely new level in cases of service dogs.

“When a person has a disability, there are certain challenges that a dog can help bridge,” she said. “It’s a whole different kind of contract relationship.”

In Butkowski’s case, a mobility assist service dog was a perfect solution, especially if the training started at the puppy stage. The first phase was puppy training, and now the duo is working on public access training.

“We took Guiness to a restaurant downtown and did a whole lunch,” Brophy said. “Guiness was perfect the entire time and he is only 4 months old.”

Mobility dogs are not meant to support all the weight of the person Brophy said.

“It’s more like balancing or using a handrail. That’s really what the dog is intended to do. It’s a rare dog that is large and strong enough to support a person’s weight in case of a fall, or even help them get up.”

Still, Guiness will provide excellent support for Butkowski, Brophy predicts, and will be able to help pick up dropped objects or aid in going up or down stairs.

http://www.themountaineer.com/news/guiness-to-the-rescue/article_d9321d9e-ffc2-11e7-a599-57ec5706d19b.html

Training at the local grocery store
+ Read More
Today, I am officially 5 months old! Since I was seven weeks old I have been diligently training towards becoming a mobility service dog for Denise. Together we attend weekly training sessions at the Dog Door Behavior Center in Asheville. My most recent training sessions have involved learning proper service dog etiquette and behavior in public areas. A few weeks ago I successfully passed my restaurant training and am now training at the local grocery stores and will be training at the mall during an upcoming training session. There is so, so much to learn!!
My training continues on a daily basis with learning to retrieve items along with learning the names of the items along with going to work several days each week.
My training is an expensive endeavor that Denise is struggles to pay for, so if you have any spare change that you would like to donate towards my training both she and I would be so appreciative as my training is estimated to cost $8500 by the time it is completed around the time I turn two years old.
If you have any questions about my training I know Denise would be happy to answer them.

Guinness

I am 5 moths old today!
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update

$450 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 9 people in 14 months
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
   Connect
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
JS
$100
Jennifer Siebers
4 months ago
BD
$75
Barb DeGroot
6 months ago
DH
$25
Dr. John Highsmith
7 months ago
LH
$50
Liz Heuser
10 months ago
FL
$25
Francesca Lewis
12 months ago
TT
$25
Teresha Thompson
12 months ago
CW
$50
Cherie Wrigley
13 months ago
CW
$50
Cherie Wrigley
13 months ago
BD
$50
Barb DeGroot
13 months ago
or
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.