Public transportation is accessible to me.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

16 Danielle and Bobo16. Public transportation is accessible to me.

The ADA requires that public transportation is accessible.  This includes wheelchair lifts on buses, elevators to subway station stops, and accessible seating within transportation sources.  Even school buses must be made accessible!

This is Dani and her service dog Bobo.  For 37 years the Ohio Department of Education has provided school bus drivers with advanced training, each summer.  In 2013 Dani and Bobo became the first service dog team to participate in this training, assisting the school bus drivers with hands-on drills of fire evacuations.  Since Dani and Bobo use the bus to get to school, this helps keep them safe, but also helps keep children with disabilities and their service dogs across the state of Ohio safe.  They have participated in training more than 1200 Ohio school bus drivers over 3 summers.  Dani also received the first ever “Danielle Kneisly Award” given out by the Ohio Department of Education, which will be given out to people who advance the care of students during transport to and from school.

“Danielle doesn’t have a dis-ability.  She has a different ability.  We will forever be grateful for the door Bob Harmon and the Transportation Department opened for Dani.  In her life there are a lot of things she won’t get to participate in…being able to participate in the advanced driver program has opened a door for her to change lives that even a typical young person may never have the opportunity to do.”

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I can thrive in athletics through adaptive sports.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

15 Richard & Roper15.  I can thrive in athletics through adaptive sports.

With the ADA has come a greater acceptance for persons with disabilities and inclusion of them.  Adaptive sports allow kiddos like Richard to enjoy friendly competition, sun, and fun!  Richard needs his service dog Roper by his side, and the ADA ensure that this happens everywhere, even on his baseball diamond.  The ADA also helps other kiddos with accommodation needs access the programs and adaptive sports they are interested in.  Richard (and Roper!) are a part of the @Miracle League of Lehigh Valley, where they are loved and accepted by their teammates and all of the volunteers, coaches, and staff that make the game possible.

“Since Roper, Richard is more comfortable with crowded situations, and is more willing to try new things.  He is able to stay in situations longer as long as he knows Roper is near by.   This year for the Miracle League is the first year for the team photos that he actually wanted to stand with the team with Roper and actually was happy to do the team photos!”
Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

It has created a place for young people to be activists for a cause

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

11.  It has created a place for young people to be activists for a cause.

11 Hunter and AngelAs discussed already the ADA has increased awareness about disabilities, and in turn increased access to available programs.  With that comes an opportunity for people of all ages to lend a hand in the awareness effort. 

Hunter and Angel are no exception.  Hunter was feature in People Magazine with his life-saving pup Angel, bringing awareness for seizure disorders and 4 Paws for Ability.  He and his mom often advocate on our behalf and share with everyone they meet the ways that 4 Paws has changed their lives.  Hunter is a huge advocate, fan, and supporter of Binkeez for Comfort, which sends blankets to children facing life threatening illnesses across the US.  With the ADA and Angel, Hunter has found a voice.

His mom is most grateful because, “I can sleep knowing Angel is watching her boy!”

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I live with less fear.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

Sophie and Tink8.  I live with less fear.

This is Sophie and her service dog Tinkerbell. With Tink, Sophie is able to enjoy the world around her and Tink provides a lifeline against life threatening seizures.  Her alerts provide Sophie and her mom with a small sense of stability and comfort in a world that is consistently impacted by the unpredictability of seizures.  Tink helps Sophie continue to have kid experiences, like playing dress up, amidst the scary moments no kiddo should ever experience.

“The ADA law has allowed Sophie to go places we would not have been able to take her otherwise, and opened many doors and services we would have never known existed”.

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

Bobo and Danielle helping to make school buses safer

By | Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

danielle_boboBus drivers from across the state of Ohio traveled to Solon High School in Cleveland for the 35th year of the Ohio Pre-Service Bus Driver Training Program. But this would be the very first year they would have the opportunity to include a service dog in their drills.

4 Paws alums Bobo and his girl Danielle traveled with their family from Dayton, Ohio to participate in the training, where bus drivers refreshed their skills and took their training levels beyond that of state requirements. The program takes place over a few days and includes road tests and simulations.

Danielle and Bobo even took part in a fire simulation, where the bus was filled with smoke. The driver was responsible for getting all the passengers safely off the bus, including Danielle and her service dog. Her parents, Kimberly and Mike Bish are in hopes that training exercises such as these helps add to the drivers’ confidence and knowledge.

At the end of the program, Danielle and her family were awarded a plaque in token of their willingness to volunteer for the training. Click on the picture of it below to see the video and the full story.

Way to go Danielle, Bobo and family!


GOOD NEWS: Update on Bobo & Danielle

By | Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

Hi gang!

Photo by Jessica Noll-Korczyk

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and the New Year is starting out great. Ours is awesome!

We love Bobo and he is adjusting very well, considering we have had a house full of company and lots of cooking this season.  He does like to jump on visitors and some think it is okay so we just have to remind them he is not allowed to do that.

I feel sorry for him because he wants to play with the cats and they want no part of him except to tease and torment him. He got slapped the second day and learned his lesson. They are declawed and know they are faster than he is and that he cannot fit under the things they can. Thank goodness he did not try to fit under the Christmas tree. He did try to catch his tail and almost wiped out the tree!

After we got back from training I spent the entire next week at school with him.  He did very well. We had a pep assembly with the band and it was very noisy and lots of traffic. Danielle’s class was in the front row right by the door so we just put him between two wheelchairs so he would not get his tail stepped on.

The second day in class we took the RTA. That was an adventure alone for me.  Poor Bobo. There were three wheelchairs and the bus was pretty full. He just did not have enough room and we were at the front of the bus so he could not really lie down in the aisle. He eventually ended up with his back legs between mine, his front feet on the empty seat next to me and his head on my shoulder!

Photo by Jessica Noll-Korczyk

We then went shopping at Wal-Mart and then lunch at McDonalds. Danielle did have a seizure there but he did not alert us. We then went to the rec center where the kids were going to swim—unfortunately not Danielle because of the seizure. However, she and Bobo lay on a mat outside of the pool area, taking a nap. It was adorable; the two of them snuggled together. We then got on the bus to head back to school and Danielle had another seizure. This time Bobo did bark and the teachers commented it was an entirely different bark than they had heard before.  A bark to alert you something was wrong, almost defensively. Yea Bobo!

Later in the week the kids went to see a movie and Bobo did great. I spilled buttered popcorn on the floor and he did not move. Danielle knew he was on the floor and tried to offer her pop to him! The other students are doing well with him and it seems he will be an asset to the classroom as one student is already in charge of making sure Bobo has water. A couple of them will get to play ball with him at lunch to tire him out as long as they stay on track during the morning. We are doing the red and green bandana on him in the classroom so the students will know if he is working or not. Outside of the classroom other high school students will need to ask Danielle’s permission before they can pet him. This will engage her in conversation and help with the social skills.

Photo by Jessica Noll-Korczyk

The school has been awesome with this entire process. The principal held a staff meeting and we met the teachers and they met Bobo. It was a great opportunity to show them what he can do and answer any questions they may have. They are very receptive to getting some media coverage, which I am excited about so we can also get 4Paws some publicity. School starts again on Monday. I will be taking a day off every week and going to school with Bobo until we are all confident he is ready to be left there by himself with me. The teacher and the two aides have done awesome—very hands-on and wanting him to be there. We are very lucky.

We meet the bus drivers at the end of January because they are bidding on new routes and the supervisor wants to make sure that those who bid on the route Danielle is on will be aware they will have a dog on the bus. The only thing we had to watch at school is that if Danielle is in the kitchen cooking and Bobo is in there with her and she leaves to come out to the table he automatically follows her without being told free. He is doing what he is supposed to but we are working on reinforcing he needs to stay put until he is released.  Our entire experience at 4Paws was awesome. I had no idea of what to expect. Bobo has made a tremendous difference in our lives and family.

My dad is in a nursing home and loves it when we bring Bobo to visit and my mom is on dialysis three times a week and on the days I take or pick her up she wants to know where Bobo is. I have been replaced!

We are teaching him to bark when he hears the seizure mattress monitor go off.

This past week Danielle was in her room playing on her bed, shaking her drumsticks and set off the alarm. Bobo and I were in the kitchen. He heard the alarm go off and ran upstairs but did not bark. We are working on that, just need to practice it more. I believe last evening he scented two seizures. He was obnoxiously licking Danielle and then he just sat in front of her, raised his nose to the ceiling and sniffed. Twenty minutes later she had a seizure. He did it a while later as well. Sat in front of the stove and lifted his nose to the ceiling and sniffed. I thought he was smelling dinner in the microwave. He then went over and licked all over Danielle. Again about 20 minutes later she had one.

Things are settling down where we are now learning his patterns so we will be able to notice different behaviors.

You are all a wonderful team and have touched so many lives. You are all very fortunate to be doing something that is obviously your passion. It shows. You help make miracles and dreams come true!

Peace to all of you!

Kim, Danielle, Mike and Bobo!

Do you have an update you’d like to share since you graduated from 4 Paws? Email it to



August 2012 | A Class Full of Superheroes!

By | Autism Assistance, Hearing Assistance, Misc, Miscellaneous, Multipurpose Assistance, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

XENIA, Ohio – A classroom full of superheroes took over 4 Paws over the last 11 days—both dogs and children donned capes and “Super” emblems on their chests. While each child’s Kryptonite varies, the pair of child and canine grew into a team. And together, as 4 Paws graduates, they are ready to fight seizures, hearing loss, autism and all that ails them, one super power at a time.

Bianca is a smiler. She loves to smile. So it was no surprise that when York, a yellow Labrador Retriever, entered the classroom, her face lit up. She and her little brother found a new playmate and friend for life, as they laughed and fed York treat after treat.

“York is a blessing to us, cannot be more thankful,” said her mom, Estella.

Tyler wasn’t sure how to take Niella, a white Labradoodle. With a baggie full of treats in his dad’s hand, one morsel at a time, he tossed them into the air. As each one piece of kibble landed, Niella gobbled them up quickly, making Tyler giggle every time.

“I’m sorry, but [Niella is] absolutely the best dog ever,” said Tyler’s mom at graduation.

 It was love at first sight for Riley and Nascar, a Golden Retriever. Hugs were plentiful, as Riley buried his face in Nascar’s golden coat, smiling for photos as he peeked up over her back. He nuzzled his new furry pal as if he had known the dog for years. His mom was thrilled on graduation day.

 “[Nascar is] perfect fit for our son. They are going to be best friends forever,” said Maggie.

Ethan didn’t know quite what to make of Dazzler, a chocolate Labrador Retriever. In fact, his mom Heather said that he was petrified of his new service dog for days after jumping into training. But after a rocky road of 11 days in class, the two are peas in a pod… sleeping together and walking together tethered. Local 12 news out of Cincinnati came and did a TV feature on Ethan and Dazzler and they saw first-hand tethering and the tracking training, which will come in so handy for parents like Heather and Richard Innis.

“We’re just blown away at how prepared these dogs are to get out there and do their jobs,” said Heather.

Read Ethan and Dazzler’s story, “Wonder Boy Gets Super Dog” on our blog at,

Wagging his tale, Jenji frolicked over to where Dawson was sitting with his mom and dad. Not sure what to think, Dawson curled up in his mom’s lap a little tighter, while dad made sure that Jenji, a black Labradoodle, was loved on. Eventually Dawson sneaked in a few kisses and treats—with a smile from ear to ear; giggling with every lick Jenji gave while gently taking a treat from the young boy’s hand.

Thor anxiously waited, sitting on his mom, Erin’s lap. As

Detour, a black Labrador Retriever, finally made his way to boy, Thor became shy, but inquisitive. There was an immediate bond between the two. After an initial, quick pat on the head, Thor moved from the safety of his mom’s lap to the floor, where he and Detour sat face to face, creating a bond that would last forever.

 “[We were] expecting an exceptional dog, but we’re amazed,” said Erin.

Ruby had a fondness for Nascar sitting next to her family, but at first was not sharing her parents’ enthusiasm about Abba Zabba, a yellow Labrador Retriever. The curly, blond-haired girl was soon won over too.

For her mom, Melissa, the emotion that she said she has had in abundance over the last year with the fundraising and 4 Paws, has been “gratitude.” 

“We’re totally in love with Abba,” she said with tears in her eyes at graduation.

Michael’s brother and sister loved on DaVinci, however, Michael sat on mom’s lap and was a bit on the skeptical side. By the end of class, at graduation, Michael had one arm around DaVinci, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and smiled while his family took loads of photos, proud of him and their newest family member.

Jessica embraced Jello, a yellow Labrador Retriever, right off the bat with plenty of hugs and kisses when they met. She leaned into his soft fur and whispered in Jello’s ear, presumably telling him her secrets. Jello, too, was in love—content with the attention from his new favorite girl.s brother and sister loved on DaVinci, however, Michael sat on mom’s lap and was a bit on the skeptical side. By the end of class, at graduation, Michael had one arm around DaVinci, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and smiled while his family took loads of photos, proud of him and their newest family member.

As families chatted while munching on breakfast and kids mingled over toys on the first day of class, Ellie spent the better part of the morning on the first day kneeled down, waiting, leaning up against Déjà Vu’s crate. She had one arm up, over her head clinched on the top of the crate, while her other hand’s tiny fingers were stroking the metal bars to Déjà’s crate. She couldn’t wait to have her dog in her arms. The time came and they met. Her big eyes grew even larger as she gave treats and loved on her new BFF, Déjà, who she had become attached, to long before they were introduced. By the end of their meeting, Ellie was laying down on a mat on the floor, staring into the black Labrador Retriever’s eyes.

“Perfect match for her. She loves animals,” said her mom Jen.

CeCe and Michael came to 4 Paws to share the love of Dagwood, a black Labrador Retriever. And they did. When CeCe entered the classroom to sign in the first day, wide-eyed, she eagerly said, “We’re getting a dog!” The three met, along with their mom and dad, and it was an instant family from the start. Michael, sitting on dad’s lap, leaned his hand down to pat Dagwood’s head, laughing. CeCe knelt on the ground, feeding their new service dog treats, with a smile that never left her face.

“It’s really a class-act organization. [We] look forward to taking him home,” said mom, Suzie.

Congratulations to the graduates from the Class of August 2012!

-Jessica Noll

Evan makes best friend for life

By | Charity, Fundraising, Misc, Miscellaneous, Multipurpose Assistance, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

Boy-turned author gets long-awaited service dog

XENIA, Ohio – Evan Moss, a bubbly, very interactive 8-year-old plays with his electronic game. Legs stretched out behind him as he lay on his stomach, atop a quilted blanket. Next to him, legs stretched out, lying on her belly too is Mindy. Paws up, she is chewing on her large, clear, Nylabone. They won’t be sharing toys anytime soon, said Evan, but they are already sharing a bed.
“It’s cool to see them bonding,” said Lisa Moss, Evan’s mom, who said they spent each night cuddling in their hotel bed while training at 4 Paws. “He’s really taking to her and she’s really taking to him too.”
The two have become fast friends over the course of the past 11 days—in sync; in a way that is, well, magical. Evan has found in Mindy, a BFF, to share his love of life with. When asked what he’ll do with his newfound friend?
“Everything!” he said with a bashful smile engraved on his face. He said that he couldn’t wait to get home to their sprawling Alexandria, Va., back yard and race with her.
“She’ll play catch with me. She’ll race with me!”
It’s important that Evan has Mindy by his side—not just for companionship, but for life.
“Not much slows him down—except taking away his iPod,” Lisa joked. But one thing does slow him down. Epilepsy.
Evan was born with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), which causes tumors to grow within his vital organs; most prevalent in his brain, eyes, heart, skin, kidneys and lungs. The soon-to-be 3rd-grader, had his first seizure when he was just a few weeks old. Soon thereafter, doctors had to remove a tumor from his brain.
“He handles [seizures] surprisingly well,” said Lisa. “It’s part of who he is.”
Evan has nocturnal seizures just about every 10 days, said his parents, Rob and Lisa Moss. They occur mostly while he’s sleeping. He usually doesn’t recall them; however, the seizures often leave him unbalanced the next morning, making it difficult to walk. It’s a scary time every two weeks for the Mosses. Lisa said she fears that they’ll sleep through a nighttime seizure. It’s an unnerving feeling that creeps into the mother of two’s mind from time to time—especially since they never know the severity.
For most of his seizures, medical attention is necessary. And that’s where Mindy comes in. Evan knows exactly what his best friend is for.
“She’ll help me when I have seizures. She’ll help me when I get off balance,” he said.
Mindy will be a brand new part of the family, waiting in the wings, to help alert them to seizures and to play when he needs a friend.
“I think she’s going to help us in ways we don’t even know yet,” said Lisa, hopeful of what’s to come.
Service dogs need not apply—
Lisa wasn’t always so pro-service dog.
For a long time, Lisa and Rob, creators of, a seizure diary system website, avoided the notion that their son neither needed a service dog, nor that he would benefit from having one.
“As helpful as they can be, they can complicate your life,” expressed Lisa with understandable concern.
It’s no longer just going into a mall with a child with special needs or disabilities; it’s going into a mall with a dog—and the attention and questions that follow from that.
As Rob and Lisa frequented epilepsy conferences for their website, year after year, they always came across one booth regularly. It was a table set up for service dogs, specifically for those with epilepsy.
And since they didn’t teach their son to be neither embarrassed nor ashamed of who he is, they started vigorously digging into and researching everything that they could about service dogs, hoping the assistance a dog could provide would outweigh their concerns.
They had a long list of demands. The service dog had to perform seizure-alert, be trained for a child and hypoallergenic, due to Lisa’s allergies. It was a tall order, but an order that 4 Paws could and would fill.
Enter through the doggie door: Mindy.
An author is born—
Evan was 7-years-old when they started the application process with 4 Paws. As one of the requirements, he would need to write or draw a photo to include with the application materials. The then-2nd-grader who’d written stacks of books in class, said, he didn’t think so. Rob and Lisa then explained to him that they needed it. What he meant was… ‘I don’t think one picture is enough.’ So he asked, “Can I write a book?” Lisa: “Of course!”
Once they self-published his book, “My Service Dog,” several media outlets featured the young author, bringing awareness to epilepsy and service dogs. As a result, they ended up using the money they made through book sales as the required $13,000 that they needed to raise to make “My Service Dog” a reality for Evan. Lisa chuckled, remembering that they had had all kinds of fundraisers planned and in the works, like a 5K run and a yard sale.
“It ended up all we needed to do was the book,” she said. They did, however, hold the yard sale since their home was exploding with the generosity of donations to sell.
They raised the funding for a service dog selling one book at a time, signing one copy at a time. Hundreds lined up, wrapping around their local coffee shop, during his book signing near Washington, D.C. Her son’s fans continued looping around the block. It was like nothing they had ever seen before.
There were so many people, nearly 600 that they sold out of books on-hand. They took orders for more books—many from people who drove in from out of state just to meet Evan. It was a community coming together to support one little boy, determined to achieve his dream of sharing his life with a service dog.
“So many groups of [our] friends—to look at into the crowd, it was like a history of our time, with all the people who had been supporting us,” said Rob. Those who came out in support at the event included nine service dogs, some from 4 Paws.
From that moment on, everything was a whirlwind for Evan and his family. His book, “My Service Dog” sold about 4,000 copies, was the No. 1 bestseller on’s ‘Kids Health’ section and was featured on Amazon’s homepage. Now, there’s even a Kindle version.
A few days after the book signing, Lisa said, the coffee shop, where it was held, called her. They said an unnamed woman came in, wanting to donate $13,000 to Evan for his dog. Since they had already raised what they needed, Lisa quickly suggested that they make that donation to 4 Paws, in turn helping more children with disabilities to reach their fundraising goals as well.
Boy meets dog—
The only pet Evan had ever had was a fish, until now.
It was only a matter of time before the determined, talented, little boy was introduced to his very own service dog.
Dressed modestly in a sweater, Mindy, a Goldendoodle, had been freshly groomed and trimmed for their initial meeting on Day 1 of class at 4 Paws. To avoid getting too cold, she was fashionable in her green and blue sweater, 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. For the next 11 days, they trained at the Xenia facility together, learning each other and what they had to do for each other in case of emergency and everything in between.
“She’s going to be his best friend,” said Lisa, beaming ear to ear on graduation day at 4 Paws. “She’s a great dog—such a sweet girl.”
Mindy will alert Lisa and Rob at night when Evan has a seizure. In addition, she will assist him with behavioral and socialization skills, balance after a seizure and will be tethered to Evan when they are out in public—since Evan has a tendency to get lost in the shuffle, disappearing into crowds. Mindy will give them piece of mind, and Evan, a companion in all aspects of life.
“It will give him the freedom of sleeping alone,” said Lisa of the relief having Mindy to watch over her son at night would be for him and the entire family. Relief, because Rob and Lisa would have to take turns sleeping with their son in case he had a seizure.
But aside from Mindy’s main duties, the best part for Evan? Mindy will accompany him to school this year—which to Evan is, “awesome!”
“She’s a part of the family—it’s like having another kid.”
The hand-drawn dog on his book, “My Seizure Dog” looks an awful lot like Mindy, but Evan said that was just sheer coincidence.
“I was just drawing an extraordinary dog,” he said. Extraordinary indeed.           
A sequel to “My Service Dog” may be in the works… but Evan said, not for a while.
-Jessica Noll
Check out “My Seizure Dog,” click here. Evan has been featured in the Washington Post, People magazine,, CBS Early Show, Fox News and

Saluting the Class of July 2012!

By | Autism Assistance, Hearing Assistance, Misc, Mobility Assistance, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

Devyn and Kite

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 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.

-Jessica Noll

Maddie and her best friend!

By | Mobility Assistance, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

Maddie and her Seizure Alert Service Dog Viva

Millions of Americans with disabilities rely on hope to get them through each day; hope for a breakthrough; hope for gaining or reclaiming independence; and hope for a friend. Each year, hundreds of them find hope at a handful of organizations across the country that train assistance dogs for people with disabilities. Dogs aren’t just pets anymore – they’re service dogs for the handicapped and for children with other special needs.

For one Golden Retriever dog named Viva, the term “man’s best friend” is a very accurate statement. Viva’s training and instincts were paired together to create a dog who was trained to serve as a guardian for her seizure-prone owner Maddie.

Viva plays an important role when it comes to ensuring the safety of Maddie. Seizures can cause injury and even death due to secondary injuries that occur when a seizure strikes unexpectedly. Viva gives a warning before each seizure, which allows the staff at St. Rita to give Maddie the appropriate medication to stop the seizure from happening.

In addition, Maddie has balance and mobility issues and Viva is specially trained to assist her in tasks she cannot perform alone like helping her stand upright by becoming a counterweight when she starts to fall, and helping her maneuver up and down stairs. In eight short months Maddie and Viva have formed an unbreakable bond.

Since November Viva has alerted the staff at St. Rita four times that a seizure is about to occur and every time the seizure was prevented. Since Maddie is having fewer seizures her academic progress has blossomed, she is no longer losing skills as a result of the seizures and so she is retaining much more knowledge. Maddie and Viva’s story are just one of many that occur in the halls of St. Rita School everyday. 

To learn more on St. Rita School for the Deaf and hear more student stories please visit