Online Family Support Network

We have an amazing online support network for our 4 Paws families, including Facebook. We allow all of our clients access to each other so that our graduates can communicate with each other and help our new families through the process! We feel this speaks to our quality of service!

Problem with new service dog

April 2012. Parent writes on Facebook that their new dog, Yoyo, has some “potty” issues. Karen Shirk responded: 

Call Jeremy whenever you have an issue with your dog. No one knows them better than Jeremy and he can help you find the solution. What works for one dog does not work for all dogs and Jeremy and the trainers who know Yoyo inside and out can help you find the answers you need to get her back on track. Remember you can get ahold of someone here 24/7 if a trainer does not answer call my cell and I will get one for you!

Big dog chooses big driftwood!

October 15, 2011. Curtis Cottengim’s service dog, Cadbury, enjoys a day at the beach with family and friends. During Cadbury’s brief breaks, he spent the time retrieving the biggest driftwood branches he could find!

“Trip to the Oregon Coast…what a great day we all had at the Oregon coast. Cadbury had a blast! He was running back and forth chasing sticks and playing in the water with the boys. He loved the water and had a great swim. Loved seeing the smiles and hearing the laughs from the boys. Love my family!” says Robin Cottengim.

United Way presentation

By Sally Lubrant. October 7, 2011 Well the presentations went well at work today. I hope it encouraged people to donate to 4 Paws for their United Way donations. Our story was personal and everyone would have been proud of Barley. All of the service dogs were good, but Barley was exceptional ;o) I was approached by many and Barley was loved by all. Thank you again 4 Paws!

Later message to Karen Shirk: Thank you so much. We did a mini presentation for United Way for a kick off and the room just went totally silent when I explained the special and creative way our classes prepare and how you send those beautiful letters to our kids that have waited for so long to meet their new friends. I later heard that while people knew Barley, they had no idea of the magic he creates and the talents he has. I am so excited for 4 Paws about this! I would love to see the connection get local for you in Ohio with Cargill. We will work on that.

Spoke to 4th graders & got 140 Thank You letters!

By Roberta B. Polak. October 7, 2011. I got more than 140 “Thank You” letters from the 4th graders at Max’s school for Bo’s and my presentation last week. I hope these excerpts make you smile too:

  • It was really cool that Bo could do multiplication and division. I think he’s smarter than me! My dog will not even lay down.
  • I think the people in jail did a great job teaching him tricks.
  • I had so much fun today. It was the second best part of the day!
  • I can see that you have a genius Bo-tastic dog. I can’t believe he can do math. He put the ‘O’ in awesOme and ‘O’ is also for hOtdOg. The B is for tennisBall
  • You are so lucky to have an amazing dog like Bo. My cousin Ian has autism too. He goes to a special school just like Will.
  • I hope Bo enjoyed coming to our class because I did.
  • Does Bo like frisbees? My dog just chews them. I can tell Bo sure likes Pupperonis.
  • Bo was really big and strong for a 2-year-old.
  • I liked the way he felt like a pillow.
  • Tell Bo that I say hi!
  • It is cool how he went to prison and had fun with the inmates.
  • I think 4 Paws for Ability trains dogs well.

Warner Robins family with two special needs children

Looking for Neighborhood Support. August 3, 2011. When Elisabeth Davies was born five years ago, she was a healthy baby girl with no medical problems. Her brother Eddie was born a year later, his medical conditions were unlike anything doctors have seen before….then, life threw another curveball at the Davies. Eddie’s older sister Elisabeth, was diagnosed with diabetes when she was two years old. She is now a Type 1 diabetic … read more

Community responds, Cicero girl receives service dog

July 12, 2011. Gracie D’Alberto is an eight-year-old girl with severe developmental disabilities. Doctors suggested that a service dog would help her in her daily activities. Gracie’s parents set out last fall to raise $13,000 to get her a service dog from 4 Paws For Ability in Ohio. The community responded and in May, Gracie met Frankie, a black Labrador retriever. Read more about Gracie and Frankie…

Guardian on four legs

May 18, 2011. Julia O’Malley just published a powerful article in Anchorage Daily News on two children who have a 4 Paws dog. “What kind of anxiety-filled parenting scenarios play out when you have two children under 10, one with autism and one with Down syndrome and autism?” This is a must-read article telling of how Amy Brendtro cashed in her retirement and friends and coworkers of Eivind’s in the Alaska Air National Guard helped raise the rest. More about Leif and Linnea and their amazing service dog, May…

Meltdown Magic!

January 3, 2010. Happy New Year to you and everybody else at 4 Paws! I wanted to share with all of you what an awesome job Aubrey did helping Zachary relax after he had the mother-of-all meltdowns last night. These type of meltdowns don’t happen very often at home with Zachary, but this one was a real doosie! He has a cold, needed a nebulizer treatment and was on medication which I’m sure exacerbated the whole situation. It seems as if something that would otherwise not be a problem for him pushed him over the edge.

Anyway after 33 minutes of Joe literally standing in front of Zachary’s bedroom door to keep him in his room while he was screaming on the top of his lungs and hysterically crying, he FINALLY calmed down. (His room is the calm-down/time-out area when it needs to be.) He asked for me, and when walked into his room, he sat on my lap and quietly cried but immediately asked for Aubrey! Joe and I were sooooooooooo very proud of Zachary!!!!! He absolutely understands and likes that Aubrey brings feelings of calmness and a level of comfort to him. Aubrey was such a good girl. :) She jumped right onto his bed when we told her to, and he was full of smiles. :)

We kept Aubrey in the down position while she was on his bed, and Zachary patted her, kissed her, hugged her and cuddled her for a good 15 mins or so all the while smiling and telling us how much he loves Aubrey and that she’s his friend. At that point it wasn’t the meltdown that brought me to tears but the genuine, unconditional love he felt for Aubrey and she showed him. This was so soothing and therapeutic for him. Once Zachary was 100% calm, he very nicely asked Aubrey to get off of is bed so he could go to sleep…which he did. While Aubrey was lying next to Zachary, she was given lots of Pup-eroni in return for a job well done. God knows she earned it! Regardless of how infrequently this type of meltdown occurs at home, it is still extremely difficult for us to watch Zachary crumble like that none-the-less. Even though we know there isn’t much we can do to help him while it’s happening, we do try to find the silver lining in things which is indeed our girl Aubrey. :)

She is the absolute sweetest dog in the whole world, not that i’m impartial or anything. ;) Zachary loves to play with her and hug, kiss, pat, cuddle her every opportunity he can….which is constantly. He gives her kisses and tells her that he’ll see her after school each morning. She’s SUPER excited when he walks off the bus. She knows the drill…she happily runs into the house after Zachary, he gives her “crunchy treats” (Milk Bone training treats) and they play or cuddle. Not to mention, waiting for Zachary outside of the bus also encourages him to put on his backpack, carry his lunch bag and walk off the bus like a big boy since I won’t go on the bus with Aubrey. This afternoon he thought it was an absolute riot that HE was able to get her to perform some tricks (with only a teeny bit of coaching from me.) The belly laughs were contagious. He also goes into the fridge, fills up his cup with water, pours it into her water bowl and calls her over to have a drink. It’s very, very cute. Aubrey is a blessing to our family, but most specifically to Zachary, and we look forward to spending a peaceful and joyful 2010 with her!–The DiVitos: Joe, Kristy, Zachary, Allison and Aubrey

Gracie & Sprite

January 2, 2010. Just wanted to filled you in on our Gracie. She broke her leg almost 4 weeks ago. Following were a hospital stay, closed reduction and casting in the OR, ER visit and many doctor visits after Grace contracted pneumonia. But finally we are finally feeling a little back to normal. Sprite didn’t visit Grace during her hospital stays since their bonding just isn’t there yet but I sent some pictures to show how she stayed with Grace as much as she could. We had to keep Grace’s leg elevated above her heart with absolutely no weight on it for the first 10 days so we built a “box” for Grace to stay in with a leg riser in it so she could stay here in the family room with us.

After that, she could put the leg down but still no weight on it for six weeks–she had a full leg cast to ensure that. It just was rough since she didn’t understand what was going on and we couldn’t believe the extent of misery the trauma caused her. For the first week she stopped eating and somewhat drinking. She’s better now with the drinking but her appetite has not returned and she has lost a good deal of weight(at least it’s a little easier to carry her–she’s almost as big as I am!). Please feel free to share our story and pictures. Thanks, Sandi Wesinger…mom of Grace and Sprite