XENIA, Ohio – They came. They learned. They bonded. It was 11 days, 9 dogs and 18 smiles… dogs and children included of course. That’s what transpired over the span of two weeks at 4 Paws for Ability during July 2012’s training class.
They came from all over the world, including a family who traveled from Japan to meet their daughter’s new best friend.
Our first Asian-bound pup will be headed to Japan with his new family, the Carranos. Originally from Omaha, Neb., Moira Carrano, 11, found her companion in Phantom, a Golden Retriever. Energetic and talkative, she was more than excited to meet her friend and on graduation day, it was evident that Phantom matched personalities quite well with the bouncy redhead, giving Moira a run for her money; pulling her across the floor during photographs.
“We were hoping for a friend and we got Phantom,” said David Carrano, Moira’s dad.
Words were unspoken for Jeb Burrow of Blue Springs, Mo. The 7-year-old had a twinkle in his eye on graduation day, as he reached down from his electronic wheelchair to pet his beloved best friend, a Golden Retriever named Cloud. He looked up at his new little boy, putting his mouth to Jeb’s hand, bowed his head in an effort to allow the petting to commence. A smile seemed to shine through his yellow fur. Their bond was silent and beautiful, though not an unusual exchange at any given day at 4 Paws.
Alex Raker, 11, of Winchester, Va., was not a fan of all the photos that were taken of him and his new little buddy, Dewdrop. He turned his head as the paparazzi took aim and shot photo after photo. But as he tolerated the bright flash and the attention that he received, his parents wheeled him to sit in front of the ‘4 Paws Graduates’ banner, and he was at ease with his small service dog, a Papillon, Dewdrop resting upon his lap. His hands were draped over the pooch, who was right at home on his new boy’s legs.
It was only a matter of time before one determined, talented, little boy was introduced to his BFF. An Amazon.com best-selling author was in our midst during the July class. Evan Moss, 8, of Alexandria, Va., was the proud new friend to Mindy, a Golden Doodle. Dressed in a sweater, Mindy had been freshly groomed and trimmed very close for their initial meeting on Day 1. To avoid getting too cold, she was fashionable to say the least. The curly eared pup and the precocious young boy were soon two peas in a pod… it was the making of this boy’s best friend.
“It’s amazing to see the process,” said Lisa Moss, Evan’s mom. “Where we started and where we are now. [We’re] very, very, very grateful.”
(Read “Evan Makes Best Friend for Life” feature story in our next newsletter 4PawPrints; Aug/Sept issue.)
When Leah Anderson, 5, of Miamisburg, Ohio, met Yodel, she instantly went to work. Leah was experiencing pain on the first day of class and cried out. As Leah’s family moved her from her wheelchair to a blanket on the floor, Yodel tried calming the young tearful girl, lying next to her. That’s when Stacey Anderson knew this dog was going to furrever change their lives.
Graduation was an emotional day for some, who found their own special bond with their child’s new four-legged pal. Leah Anderson’s mom Stacey became Yodel’s handler, training her at the mall and in class. Growing close, bonding quickly.
“Yodel already is officially part of the family,” said Stacey Anderson, Leah’s mom. “She’s already been good for all of us,” she continued, as she teared up, bursting with joy and gratitude.
Everyone loved Minnie Pearl. With a name like that… who wouldn’t? But even more than cute and tiny, the small Papillon was ready to go to work; ready to please. On the first day of class, she met her girl, 21-year-old, college student, Jenny Gamersfeld of Hudson, Ohio. She is hearing impaired and Minnie Pearl’s tiny, furry ears, would be her ears. From the moment they met, it was love at first sight, sharing many tiny butterfly kisses and licks that can only come from your dog and companion for life.
Devyn Emmons, of Norwalk , Ohio, anxiously awaited the moment that he received his new friend. Standing, watching everyone else receive their dogs, he smiled looking on. The moment finally arrived and Kite made his way to the little boy, who could not bend his elbows. That didn’t stop him from leaning down and wrapping his arms around Kite giving him the biggest hug a little boy could, when they were introduced for the first time.
The 7-year-old did not shy away from the bright lights and camera lens pointed in his and Kite’s direction. In fact, Devyn made sure that he was always ready for his close-up. He and his Golden Retriever both seemed to enjoy the limelight, while at the mall training, in class, and on graduation day. They worked hard together and loved each other just as passionately. Every chance he got, Devyn embraced his big, furry, blonde friend, with a smile so big across his face, that there was no wiping it off.
At first Henna Soto, 13, of Woodbridge, Va., shied away from Snoball, a beautiful, upbeat, albeit, drooling Golden Retriever. Henna did not care for the typical slime associated with a dog, which had accumulated and was oozing from Snoball’s mouth. With every kiss, she made a face and yelled, “Eww! Slobber!” But those drool-filled kisses were something she learned to love about her pooch. On graduation day, it was all hugs, smiles and… yes, kisses. Lots and lots of kisses.
Cody Ross, 17, of Round Rock, Texas, sat quietly on the couch in the training room at 4 Paws. It was the first day and no dogs were introduced to their children yet. His head hung low, never looking up to show his eyes to anyone. Moments later, Loyal, his Golden Retriever, was led from the back, to his lap. With a still-closed, untouched bag full of treats in his lap, Cody, looked at the dog. His dad opened the bag of treats. Once the sound of the plastic baggie tore open, Loyal jumped to his new boy’s lap and began vigorously licking Cody. He was unrelenting. And Cody was uncontrollably laughing. His laughter echoed throughout 4 Paws and was the sound most often heard throughout for the next 11 days to come.