Before Scarlett became part of the W.A.G.S. 4 Kids family, she was already designated as a fighter. Scarlett, a twin, was not expected to survive her mom’s pregnancy because of a birth defect called an omphalocele, where her liver and intestines were outside of her body. Scarlett’s mom Lisa delivered her twin girls 7 ½ weeks early, and Scarlett – the little fighter that she is – survived.
Scarlett’s birth defect was repaired with surgery after birth; however, it was not her only medical issue. She has Midaortic Syndrome, which is a narrowing of her aorta in her abdomen, and she has renal artery stenosis, which is a narrowing of her arteries leading to her kidneys. These conditions are extremely rare in children and cause her to have high blood pressure. Scarlett will need a major surgery in the future. Her parents also realized she was developing differently than her twin sister. At age 3 ½, Scarlett was diagnosed with severe autism with cognitive language impairment.
Her parents wanted to help her in any way they could.
“I saw Scarlett interact with a therapy dog while she was staying in the hospital and I knew I had to look into getting her a service dog after I saw the way she was so calm and happy around this dog,” Lisa said. “She was gentle petting the dog and putting her face on his back – Scarlett was so at ease!”
The main goals in having a service dog with Scarlett were to help calm her anxiety; to limit the times she wanders; and to lessen the severity and frustration she experienced when having meltdowns.
Another sister, a service dog named Gabby, was added to Scarlett’s family in July 2019.
“Since Gabby has been with us, Scarlett has been happier than ever knowing she has her Gabby with her to put her at ease and feel comfortable,” Lisa said. “Scarlett had an immediate bond with Gabby.”
While it has only been a few months since Gabby has been partnered with Scarlett, Lisa has seen improvements in daily routines and other experiences.
“Gabby helps her feel safe and calm when we go new places and travel. Whenever Scarlett has a meltdown, she calms down much quicker since we have had Gabby,” she elaborated. “Scarlett hugs Gabby and lays on her back [‘cuddle’] and she is instantly at ease. Scarlett loves brushing Gabby. She also loves watching Gabby getting her teeth brushed and this has helped us have an easier time brushing teeth.”
As Scarlett and Gabby continue to form their bond and grow together, we can only imagine that the possibilities of what Scarlett can do will become endless. Things that were once a struggle for Scarlett – and other children with special needs – like brushing teeth and traveling, will become less stressful for her and her family with Gabby by her side.
It is a very Thankful Thanksgiving for Scarlett and Gabby, thanks to your ongoing support of W.A.G.S. 4 Kids’ programs and children. Check in next Thursday for Part 3 of our 2019 “A Thankful Thanksgiving” blog series.
If you’d like to change the life of another child in Scarlett’s name, please click the button below to make your online donation today. Along with us, you are “Growing Possibilities, One Child at a Time.”