Hi everyone,

I'm wondering how many of your sons have assist dogs?  I've tossed the idea around now and again, but I think I've finally decided it might be a very positive way to go for my son Baylor.  Baylor turned 8 the end of May and is going through a heartbreaking transition.  He very rarely tries to get up on his own anymore, and has started falling a lot more. Even getting his upper body upright from a standing bending at the waist position is now so labor intensive he has to have assistance. He is missing Exons 8-9 and has always seemed to have a more severe phenotype of DMD.  He has never been able to jump, peddle a bike, or run.  I guess my ultimate questions to all of you are; Does your son have an assist dog?  In what ways does the dog assist your son? At what stage in DMD did your son receive his dog?  Are there any cons?  What has your experience been like? 

Thank you for any responses you may give =)

Marla

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Hello Marla,

My son Matthew is about to turn 10 and he just recently, February of this year, received a service dog from Canine Companions for Independence. I like you tossed this idea around for a while and finally decided to do because he wanted it so badly. I did not realize in the beginning how rewarding this would be but looking back I can tell you it was the best decision for us. Matthew has a friend and confidante that always loves him and never judges if he is unable to do something or is too tired. As you know bowell issues are part of the Duchenne prognosis and Lulu (his service dog) never tires of sitting in the bathroom with him no matter how long it takes. She is always ready to play and is full of love. I will not lie, it does come with some cons, like having to get home at a specific time to take her out at lunch, expensive dog food and they become one of your children. I have to worry about her just like I do my children. I have to take her to the vet etc. But she never barks unless asked, she never has an accident in the house, she can hold her bladder for over 7 hours, she is very well behaved (better than my children) and they become a part of your family and bring joy you never thought possible. I am sure you can tell that I am happy with my decision. It was easy. The dog was free, the room for the training was free and you have a lifetime of access to experts that can help you with any questions you might have.
Lulu is able to retrieve items for Matthew so when he is pooped out from the day and can not pick up his shoes or toys the dog can do it easily. When he has trouble getting up from the floor she is there for him to use as support. I am sure as time passes she will become even more useful but today she is basically a support system for him and that is what he needs most.

thanks,

Teresa

Hi Teresa,

Thank you so much for responding!  Your reply has helped me to make the decision to apply for a service dog for Baylor.  Everything you described about Lulu and Matthew is what I had hoped Baylor would have with a service dog if we went that direction. From things I have read I know it generally takes about a year on a waiting list, so I feel (hope) by then Baylor will be more mature, as he is delayed for his age.  I love that Lula is such a support system for your son. Between the DMD and Baylor's developmental delay, there are times that he is lonely, as his friends are having a harder time emotionally dealing with the issues he must deal with everyday.  I don't think I worded that right...sorry.  Anyway...can I ask one more question? When Matthew is in school what about Lulu?  Does Lulu go to school with him?

Once again, thank you for replying, it has been very helpful =)

Have a great day!

Marla

PS-What part of Texas do you live in?  We used to live many years ago in the HEB area between Dallas and Ft. Worth.  I loved it there, mostly because the people  were so friendly and open =)

Hi Marla,

Funny you should ask.  We just got our service dog in June.  She is a 1 yo female golden retriever.  Our dog is trained in mainly picking up items, and bringing them back.  She can "hug" Ian when/if he needs it.  She was intended to be a companion for him, but right now she is still new to the commands, so I am working with her for the most part.  We were at our doctor for a visit relating to Ian's depression.  Ian started to cry when the NP was talking to him, and Garcia(the dog) stood up and started nosing Ian's arm.  The NP moved out of the way, and we gave her the command to get up..she got in his lap with her front paws, and licked him and nudged him.  The "hug" command will get the dog to move in even closer as if giving a  hug.  Ian also has sensory-neuro issues, and when he is upset, he "NEEDS" a hug, the deep pressure.  She will provide that for him.  These dogs have been trained to pull and push wheelchairs, if needed.  Open and close doors, turn on and off switches, etc.  We got her from Cares,Inc, located in Concordia, KS.  We were there for 10 days of training.  We got to meet the puppy raisers, and met some really awesome families.  If you would like to visit further about this, my email is bdworman@aol.com.  Please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your input Michelle!  I would love to visit with you further, so I'll drop you an email soon =)

My son and I just came back from CCI as part of November 2012 graduating class. We live in California, attended the facility in Santa Rosa. This experience was some of the best days of my life of 42 years.

We received a great Lab/Golden Cross named Minos. My son Joe is 14 and has power wheelchair. Minos and Joe are an incredible team and the benefits are undeniable. Picking up things is only the start. Joe has matured years in just a few days. He understands leadership like never before.  The dog is work, and expense, but SO WORTH IT.

The CCI family is the icing on the cake. What a team. Really world-class organization.

 

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