Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's been a year...

How can it already have been a year since we made our unforgettable trek to Xenia, Ohio to give Tess her Make a Wish for a service dog?

I have sat here today, listening to the "epic" blizzard, Juno, rage outside and remembering every bit of that trip and those twelve days we spent in training at 4Paws for Ability.

I remember the exact moment Oreo was brought by her main 4Paws trainer, Shelby, over to be introduced to Tess and the excitement and yes, even anxiety at having to learn about and take care of such a special dog.


just look at Tess's smile...you can barely see Oreo over on the left but Tess was so happy



Oreo on her first alert to Tess right out of the gate


I have been "talking" on Facebook today with our other classmates who, I believe, are basically feeling all the same emotions that I am. The words we are all saying the most often are, "Grateful" and "Blessed".

It is hard to explain the connection that I felt, and still feel to a group of people I have known, in person at least, for only twelve days. Suffice it to say, they all "got" it. Got the fear, the sleepless nights, the constant worry, and the feeling of helplessness that comes with having a child with a disability. It didn't matter what the disability was, whether it be epilepsy in an otherwise typically developing child, or Autism, or Down Syndrome, or like Tess, a whole host of multiple and severe disabilities. They all just understood. There wasn't pity. There wasn't judgment. It was more of a feeling of support, encouragement and a whole lot of hope. A "we're all in this together" mentality that I have never felt before or since. And I have to admit, I miss that feeling. I miss them.

I often wonder if 4Paws really can fully grasp the impact they make in people's lives with the work they are doing with their dogs. I cannot imagine our house without Oreo in it. I have come to depend on her as a second set of eyes on Tess. And I know that she often knows Tess may be getting ready to have a seizure or getting sick hours before I can see the warning signs. This is invaluable help to have, especially when you have a kiddo like Tess who can go from a cold to pneumonia in a matter of hours so every minute quite literally counts. Oreo helps me to get an early jump on big trouble. Can you imagine the sense of relief and comfort that provides?

For example, just the other night, Tess's oxygen alarm was going off repeatedly because the sensor wasn't working properly. I finally told Charlie (because we had been taking turns getting up with her trying to fix it and it was his turn again) to just turn off the machine because Oreo was with her and would let us know if Tess needed our help. I have never turned off her oxygen monitor. Ever. But Oreo was there and I didn't even worry about it. Just went right back to sleep confidant in the knowledge that Oreo would watch over Tess.

I am still amazed by the level of trust I have in her instincts where Tess is concerned.

But Oreo has also alerted on other people and been right on the money. Poor Ellie got alerted on big time one night over Christmas break to the point where she only half jokingly asked me if she was going to die because Oreo just kept pawing at her and whimpering and wouldn't stop no matter where Ellie went. Cut to five hours later and Ellie was very ill with what we think was food poisoning. Oreo knew.

And my cousin, who has seizures, was here the other day and Oreo alerted on her. When I questioned whether or not she had taken her meds that morning, she looked over at me sort of shocked and replied, "No, I kind of forgot." Needless to say she jumped up and took them.

Oreo can be a naughty little girl at home sometimes but boy, she sure does make up for it when it really counts.

So, as hard as it is to believe, it's been a year since we met our 4Paws "Family" and our adventures with Oreo began. So much has happened and even during the bad times, Oreo has made our lives better.


one of the absolute worst days ever but Oreo wouldn't leave her girl's side


Oreo has been the best Wish because all of our dreams and hopes for Tess that went into that wish have come true.

Grateful and Blessed.

Pretty awesome words to sum up a year, wouldn't you say? :)

BFF's









1 comment:

  1. Such a blessing...and as usual, you expressed it so well. Thanks Joanna for letting us share this with you.

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