This is my younger sister, Grace. Sometimes people think we’re twins even though we’re 3 years apart. She loves animals, ice hockey (especially cheering on the Bruins), breakfast foods, politics, and Stephen Colbert. She’s one of the most passionate, loving, and loyal people I know.
Six years ago, when she was 14 years old, Grace sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a physical assault. While no two TBIs are the same, they tend to be severe, chronic, unpredictable, and difficult to live with—all of which have been the case with Grace. It’s impeded her ability to attend school, drive a car, have a job—to live the life that she wants and deserves to live.
She has dealt with a range of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms directly resulting from her TBI. She experiences crippling and persistent headaches, neuropathy (pain and numbness in her legs and feet), hypersomnia and severe fatigue (excessive sleeping and trouble waking up) and seizures. Her TBI has impaired her cognitive abilities, including short term memory loss, difficulty with word retrieval, diminished information processing speed and difficulty with time management, initiating and completing tasks. She has had 2 craniofacial surgeries to address complications from her initial injury. And perhaps the hardest thing for me is that Grace continues to struggle with PTSD, anxiety, and severe depression because of the effects of her TBI.
While Grace and our family have tried for years to find the right therapies, treatments, and solutions to these issues, few have truly helped Grace. So we decided to try something different—adopting a dog that will be professionally trained to be Grace’s service dog! Given Grace’s love for and knowledge of animals, and the types of issues Grace deals with, we’re hopeful that Rosie will help Grace start living a happier and more productive life.
In November 2017, Grace adopted Rosie, a standard poodle pup from a breeder in North Carolina. Rosie is very sweet, eager to please everyone she meets, and incredibly smart—we all quickly fell in love with her. But in order to become Grace’s service dog, she’ll need to go through extensive and costly training.
Rosie’s Training & Costs
During her training program, Rosie will first learn basic obedience training, household manners, and socialization skills. Since she’ll be with Grace everywhere she goes, Rosie will learn how to behave in multiple different environments and with various distractions.
Once she’s got the basics down, Rosie will learn more specific assistance behaviors which will help Grace with symptoms from her TBI, including PTSD, hypersomnia, and dizziness:
~ Responding to Grace’s alarm in the morning, helping her wake up and get out of bed
~ Recognizing when Grace is having a nightmare, and helping by interrupting or comforting her
~ Recognizing potential PTSD and anxiety triggers, and standing close/leaning up against Grace in stressful situations, like in a crowd of people
~ Helping stabilize Grace when she experiences dizziness
Luckily, we found a service dog training program based right here in Atlanta, but the training Rosie needs will cost between from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on how much training she needs before she is ready and certified as a service dog. She will start with a month-long boarding program at the training facility, the cost of which does not include all of her food, treats, supplies, equipment, vet visits and grooming needs while she is there.
Even after 6 years, it is still hard to reconcile and quantify the loss that Grace and our family experienced from her injury. Grace’s TBI has affected all aspects of her life, and while Rosie will not cure Grace of her TBI, she can dramatically improve Grace’s quality of life. Rosie has the potential to be an amazing service dog and support system for Grace that will enable her to feel more confident, empowered, and independent.
Thank you for reading Grace’s story. Rosie has given us hope for Grace’s future! Grace, Rosie, and our whole family are grateful for any amount of financial support you are able to provide. If you’re unable to donate, and Grace’s story resonates with you, we would greatly appreciate if you shared this page on your social media, and with friends and family.
Grace and Rosie
*NEW* Check out our Bravelets page! You can support Grace's Service Dog Campaign through your purchase using this link: https://www.bravelets.com/collections/fundraise/?rfsn=1154156.8e9fbd&utm_source=refersion&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=1154156.8e9fbd