Katherine is a Perinatal Ischemic Stroke survivor who has Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Cortical Visual Impairment. She also struggles with Epilepsy and is largely non-verbal. Despite her long list of medical conditions, Katherine is a fierce little girl with endless energy and charm, and a strong desire to be independent.
Independence is hard to attain when you don’t speak much, can’t walk without assistance and don’t see very well. Katherine often gets frustrated by her mom and dad hovering over her while she plays - what first-grader wouldn’t? She’s a big girl, and big girls should be able to play on their own sometimes!
For years, Katherine’s mom and dad thought that a service dog might help her become more independent at home and in her school. They had seen videos of dogs comforting children during Autism meltdowns, and alerting parents when kids were having seizures. However, Katherine had always been very afraid of animals. She would sometimes shake and cry when they got near her, so her mom and dad let go of the idea of a service dog.
But not long ago, Katherine met a dog named Zelda and everything changed. Zelda was a tiny dog who belonged to some friends, and Katherine wasn’t afraid of her because she was so small. After a few months of hanging out with Zelda, Katherine got over her fear of dogs. Katherine would even ask for Zelda by name, which is a big deal for a little girl who can’t talk very much! One time she got to have Zelda stay at her house for a weekend, and her parents noticed many positive changes in her behavior and comfort level. Dogs weren’t so scary to her anymore!
With this development, Katherine’s mom and dad began talking to her doctors and therapists about the possibility of a service dog. They all agreed that Katherine could become more independent with a dog assisting her.
Katherine’s mom and dad began the application process in search of Katherine’s “fur-ever” friend. Last month, her application was accepted by Loyalty Service Dogs in Nevada. Now, the real work begins.
Service dogs are expertly-trained animals that are in great physical health and groomed from birth to work with humans. This means they are quite expensive. Katherine's family is trying to raise money to cover the entire cost of her service dog. This includes the price of the dog itself, administrative fees and travel for training (the humans get trained too!) and picking up the dog when he/she is ready to come home. The entire process takes roughly a year to complete. So far, 30% of the dog's cost has been raised through other fundraising efforts that her parents have organized, but we still have a long way to go!
We are so humbled by the support and encouragement we've received so far. There are countless needs in the world, and so many ways you could choose to be generous with your money. Your donation, however big or small, is a conscious and practical effort to show another person love and grace. We don't take that for granted and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
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