Devin's Service Dog

On August 24, 2006 Devin entered our world and our lives have never been the same. When he was born, we were told he would not survive and if he did, he would be a vegetable and have no quality of life. They said he would never breathe without a trache, eat without a feeding tube, walk, or be independent at all. If we knew then what we know now, less days would have been spent grieving and more would have been spent accepting our new lives and moving forward.  Devin has had 24 surgeries/procedures including tendon releases in ankles, hips, and knees. He has had a trache and gtube placed (AND REMOVED), as well as many other smaller procedures. He recieves physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech almost daily and when a therapist is not working with him, we are. Devin has had a powerchair since right before he was 3 years old and that is his main mode of transportation.  At 6 years old after very intense therapy sessions and days he would cry in pain, he took his 1st steps. At 1st it was 6, 2 weeks later it was  100. As of 3 weeks ago, he walked a mile without any breaks or assistance. He is getting stronger each and every day. One thing that he is not able to make progress on though is his arms and hands. When he was born his arms and hands were stuck in fixed positions in about a 45* angle with no movement o his arms, hands, or fingers. Due to this, he is not able to do things such as grab a can off of a shel, brush his teeth, get dressed, pick up items larger than a small ball, or even pick up his backpack. He is now 8 years old and needs to be able to do more without our assistance because as we all know, there will be times that we are not right with him and he needs help with somthing. One way we have thought to help him gain more independence is by getting him his Chocolate lab Lilly Mae to train as his service dog. We bought her when she was 8w old and waited a year to give them a chance to bond, Now it is time to get serious about training but having 3 kids, only 1 parent able to be out of the house working, and no other income available for this, we are asking for help. I recently found a place nearby with will tran Lilly for us to be a service dog, but it is $50 for each class and it is recommended you go a few times a week. With this option, you go to class with the dog, the instructor runs over some items and you work on it from home. It is the cheaper route but not the best for what our family needs/has time for. SO we would like to have the instructor do the majority of the training properly. Some of the things that Lilly would be trained to do are opening doors, turning on and of lights, retrieving items, moving smaller items that may be in the way of his chair, assisting with carrying/retrieving at school, as well as much more. We are asking for any help possible whether you can donate/ help with fundraising/ or just share the cause with your friends and family so we can help Devin gain the independence he needs as he becomes older. The money would all go towards training, her SD vest and leash, gas to and from training, and anything she needs to become everything Devin wil need her to be. Every penny counts. Thank you so much!


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Mariah Johnson 
Fort Atkinson, WI
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