J-Bear and Me

learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: 4 paws

The Service Dog Question

I have been talking a lot about the decision to get a service dog for J or any child or adult lately in various mediums so I figured I would bring it here and chat it out somewhere I could have everything neatly laid out. Okay after writing the post that likely should be messily but I tried at least! 

Children with complex special needs kind of force their parents, like it or not, to reach far outside traditional boxes. We’re parents, after all. We want the best for our children, but the path we’re on isn’t going to be typical. Quickly, to meet your child’s needs and help them to succeed, you have to start reaching outside the expected. You have to twist your world view to include things you never considered before. You become adept at planning, able to sort out anything from a grocery trip to a hospital stay with the precision of a well seasoned general: You deploy your troops, you select your arms, and you make the situation you are in work. Does it always work? Oh heck no. Failure becomes your teacher on a daily basis, from big things to small, and there are many days where you come out of the battle going “Did no one turn blue? Is everyone at least clean and somewhat fed? Good, let’s call it done and do it again tomorrow but better.”

It’s life.

In thinking outside the traditional I found 4 Paws for Ability. What they offer suits my son’s needs and my family’s needs. There are many organizations that offer service dogs and they run the gamut in terms of how reputable they are. This is the organization that caught my attention. They focus they place on individuals, their families and their specific needs meant the world. They train specific to the needs of each child or adult and make every effort to give you the dog you need, even if this is not the dog you envision. Trust me, I envision these sweet shaggy faced golden doodles every time I look at the puppies but when the staff at 4 Paws sit down to find J the right dog for him, it could be any of their larger breed dogs. If for some reason the match does not work out, they are right there supporting you to make things right. Every step of the way the support is incredible.

We have not even gotten our dog yet and I can say the latter. The moment you enter the program and begin your fundraising you join this group of families representing a wide swath of the special needs community and they quickly become your family. You lean on each other, you bolster each other, you laugh and cry with one another… It’s the hidden treasure you never thought you’d get in starting such a journey to be sure.

Do I think the choice to get a service dog is a light one or an easy one? Absolutely not. It should be considered with great care. You are, after all, committing to a new family member who has their own needs as well. Can you handle the cost of the dog? Are you able to commit to their care too, from walking to play to working the commands to keep the dog’s skills fresh? Are you willing to handle the potential confrontations from people who do not understand the laws pertaining to where service dogs are and are not allowed (4 Paws does educate you in this and is there to assist you in situations of an animal being denied access to a place they are by law allowed)?  Are you willing to accept that this dog is at heart a dog and will do dog things, like chew on something they should not or carry all your socks around in their mouths because it’s fun?

When I sat down and weighed this out, the benefits to my son by far outweighed the drawbacks. He needs the companionship, the security and the safety this dog will be able to give him. This could be the key to unlocking some of these emerging skills that seem to get stuck. The dog could also help with his increasingly severe separation anxiety… Every day the “YES” list grows and every day I get more excited for October.

If you’re considering a service dog for someone in your life I strongly encourage you to do your research, ask questions and trust your gut instinct. I am always happy to answer questions about our journey thus far and will continue to do so as we get our dog and meet our future. If you would like to learn more about 4 Paws for Ability, please check out their website at http://www.4pawsforability.org.

Red Sox and Thesaurus Tea Auctions!

Tonight, Game 6 of the World Series will begin at 8:07pm EST.

That’s when our auctions END!

Are you interested in our autographed John Lackey photo courtesy of the Boston Red Sox?

Are you dying to try some of Thesaurus Tea’s amazing blends?

Bid away and help an amazing cause! All proceeds will go to 4 Paws for Ability!

Our Autographed Photo auction is here: http://www.jbearandme.com/auction-1-autographed-picture-of-john-lackey-red-sox-pitcher/

Our Thesaurus Tea Large Gift Basket auction is here: http://www.jbearandme.com/auction-2-large-gift-basket-from-thesaurus-tea/

Go forth! Bid! Share! Be Merry! Let’s make our final 4 Paws fundraiser a rousing success!

Fundraising Update

$11,744

Did you all read that? Let me state that again

$11,744!

If I did my math correctly, which it appears I have, this is where we stand as of TODAY. This includes all current fundraisers, our yard sale, and our FirstGiving totals.

There are not words for my awe, shock and absolute excitement that we can see the end of our efforts. We still have to fundraise for our travel, but we will have near a year for that and far less to raise.

This is amazing.

And this is all thanks to you. With all of my heart, thank you to our generous donors, our loving friends and family, our amazing supporters far and wide… We are almost finished with this part of the journey! I cannot wait to share the day we know when we will be travelling to Xenia, OH, to meet our new family member and watch J’s life change forever.

Upcoming Fundraiser

On Saturday, September 14, we are going to be holding a yard sale in Stoneham, MA, to benefit Team Jacobly for 4 Paws!

We’re still deciding on the details but if you’re local to MA, we’d love to have your support!

How can you support us?

– Swing by and pick up sweet deals on fabulously random items! We have bags! We have gently used clothes for small children!

– Donate items for sale – If you wish to do this please contact me at mamabear(at)jbearandme.com so we can discuss how to get items to where they need to be. Have car and carseat, will travel!

– Can’t be there? Still want to participate? Thanks to the generosity of the Carpenito family we have some beautiful bracelets for sale! They are $5 each and all proceeds will go directly to 4 Paws to support Team Jacobly:

braceletforjacob

Super cute! One size fits most with an elasticized band!

More information to follow as it becomes available. We are also working on a raffle instead of a silent auction now. Raffle! Because… Raffle!

Quick 4 Paws Note!

In the lovely sidebar I have a couple of other families who are on the fundraising journey alongside us! They too are working for autism service dogs. We’re all at about the same place in terms of fundraising and hopefully we all three see our boys get their dogs right around the same time. 

Sharing the Story

So last night, I finally got the beginning of our fundraising page added to the blog.

You can find it here.

This is where I need you, Internet.

Help us share the story. Help people see my little boy, for if more people can know and share in his story even more people can help. If they can’t help, they too can share. If they can’t help, maybe they can be helped by it because many of you know as well as I do how many children are out there struggling with various special needs. They might be well served by a service dog. Their moms or dads might be well served by finding another parent who is on a similar journey and is willing to talk and trade tales with them.

We never know how we can help until we try, after all.

Our goal is to raise $13,000. This goal will allow a dog to be trained for my son and come into our home, hopefully allowing new worlds to open up for my son. This journey is not one I expect to be easy, for dogs are beings all their own and require as much love and care as my child does, but it is one whose work will be immeasurably worth it.

Please help me share our story so we can do this all together.

Thank you.

Image

yes, we really are this goofy

“If you think my hands are full you should see my heart” — unknown

Update on Emitopalooza 2013 (and news!)

So!

A visit to the doctor was had. I feel better about things. We discussed the situation at length. The chance of it being behavioral has been proven to be slim. His occupational therapist tried to recreate a couple of scenarios where he was thought to force vomitting and it never happened. There is also no consistency to the whens, wheres and whys of it beyond the fact that he does gag a lot and gag easily. It’s never been done to avoid anything or as anything worse than an accidental side effect of crying too hard and triggering the gag reflex. 

The ENT feels it is his huge ol’ tonsils, but a sleep study (which is now scheduled!) has to be done to rule out a few other things pertaining to his snoring and his being monitored for seizure disorder. Based on his, and that we discovered that a dose of zofran was the only commonality between days he did NOT vomit in the past two weeks, his doc decided to stick with zofran once a day until we see what happens with his potential tonsillectomy. If he has the tonsils out and we’re still all puke-faced around here, I might lose my last marble.

But today did bring good news!

I spoke with 4 Paws for Ability and after discussing J’s needs and what he needs the most assistance with it was decided that an autism service dog would be a great fit for him! We’ll be receiving a contract and further details in the coming weeks and have a lot of fundraising ahead of us but the fact that this is now all getting started and there’s hope he can receive such assistance left me sitting down and crying when I got off the phone. 

People see my son and see wow, a little kid. Little kids tantrum, little kids run off, etc. They do not understand the severity of what goes on with him without living in my shoes day to day. They can’t, and I do not expect them to. The blessings this dog can bring to my family… That’s what left me crying. I could have help calming my son, help finding him should he wander, help keeping him close so he doesn’t get lost from me in a busy place… I could give him the care level he absolutely needs, deserves and requires at all times. The dog can be there for him in so many ways that it is hard for me to be there for him without literally ceasing to live life. I am just blown away right now. I am not one who knows what to do with good news, after all.

What a day, what a day.

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