It was August 2016 when we were welcomed into the bewildering world of a then, 7-year-old fellow named Robbie. The eldest of three siblings, Robbie never cooed as an infant, or responded to his name, or interacted with other tots. At age two, he began having meltdowns. He didn’t begin to speak until age 4, about the time he was diagnosed with autism. Then he was diagnosed with both attention deficit disorder and anxiety disorder. Struggling with speech and language, he had trouble dealing with crowds and loud noises. All these issues caused Robbie to struggle in the classroom setting, where he was known to lose control, lash out and then recede into himself. Medications helped somewhat with the anxiety and attention issues, but loud noises or crowded situations (such as in restaurants) still caused Robbie to get over-excited, sometimes covering his ears, moaning and rocking. At home, he tended to stay off to himself, but then would erupt in a happy show of affection, such as when his grandparents came over and he hugs them tightly and pronounces, “I Love you!”
When Sarah and Jon reached out to W.A.G.S. for Kids in 2016 their goals were simple "To have a service animal that could help Robbie cope with the stresses of outside world." Having been advised, then, that a service dog could go far in keeping him calm and focused when the world around him becomes too chaotic. As any parent can understand, they dreamed of a day when Robbie would be able to find joy in every day childhood activities – attending school assemblies, being in a regular classroom setting, and making friends by being able to open up to his peers.
It has now been just over 6 months since Cupcake (affectionately known as CeeCee) has joined his forever home with Robbie and his parents. When we asked Robbie's mom, Sarah, how her expectations met the reality of having CeeCee in their lives she said simply "Although there is still a lot of training to do on my part and bonding to happen between CeeCee and Robbie, she has already helped him in many situations by providing him a focus in overwhelming situations."
The one thing that always seemed to keep Robbie calmer is the presence of animals. Around dogs, Robbie shows far less difficulty in expressing himself both emotionally and verbally.
As for Sarah, every day something new happens that shows proof that magic exists, "I have already recommended the organization to many people who ask me about service dogs for people they know who might benefit."
It is a very Thankful Thanksgiving for Robbie and Cupcake, thanks to you and your continued support of W.A.G.S. 4 Kids, our programs and our children! Stay tuned next Thursday for Part 2 of 2017's "A Thankful Thanksgiving" Blog series.
Should you feel so inclined to change the life of another child in Robbie's name, please click here to make your donation online today. Your gift today....will change their lifetime.