We met siblings Courtney and Cooper in 2017, when Courtney was 8-years-old and Cooper was five. While the two shared a sibling bond, each child had their own unique struggles and needs at the time.
Courtney was born premature at 24 weeks old and weighed 18 ounces. She was given a 10 percent chance of survival. Courtney beat the odds and survived, but lives with side effects from her premature birth. Courtney suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by brain bleeds, she is legally blind, diagnosed with autism, and is developmentally delayed. Her parents, Misty and William, were also concerned with Courtney’s anxiety and sensory processing disorder.
At age 3, Cooper was diagnosed with severe, non-verbal autism. The characteristic of autism that impacted Cooper the most was anxiety. He also had a difficult time staying near his family or his home and would wander off. Like his older sister Courtney, Cooper also needed assistance because of sensory processing disorder.
Even with each child having their own specific needs, Misty and William had a singular goal in mind for their kids when it came to acquiring a service dog: diminished anxiety in both Courtney and Cooper to allow for the ability to venture out into public more as a family.
“We are pretty restricted to our home right now,” Misty said. “Most places they [Courtney and Cooper] have a ‘time limit’ or can’t tolerate at all. Taking a service dog with us everywhere would be a tremendous help in coping with the anxiety they both have over loud, crowded places.”
In late 2018, a third sibling was added to the family. According to Misty, service dog Woofie “completed our family.”
“Woofie has made a big difference in our family in regard to comfort and companionship for both children,” she said. “He always knows which one needs him more at the moment and is the most loyal dog I’ve ever encountered.”
On a warm April afternoon in 2019, mom Misty witnessed pure joy coming from her son Cooper as he played ball with his service dog Woofie.
“We got Woofie in late September when we were about done in the backyard because of the weather, so this was the first time they had ‘ball’ time outside, they were out there for hours,” Misty explained. “I cried, like sobbed happy tears. What a beautiful day it was.”
It wasn’t only beautiful because of the weather, but because she witnessed the true bond that was forming between her son and his service dog. “He’s the missing puzzle piece we needed,