Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tiggers are Wonderful Things


"I wouldn't trade it for anything. Never, no, never.
Your friendship is the best present ever."
-- Tigger

Meet Tigger, a puppy in training to become a seizure response service dog for Simon through Noelle's Dogs Four Hope. According to his trainer, Tigger is smart, VERY fluffy (he is a golden doodle), and he loves to cuddle.

Right now, Tigger is working on "Lesson One" of obedience training. We should get him in April, at which point we will continue his service dog training and work on getting him to bond with Simon and alert to his seizures. In November Tigger will return to Noelle's Dogs Four Hope for 3 final months of seizure response training. Finally, we will complete a week of training together and take a test to make him a certified service dog for Simon.

We have a lot of hopes for this 12-week-old puppy. We hope that he will be able to alert and respond to Simon's seizures. We hope he will help us to keep Simon safe. We hope that he will make Simon happy; by being an unconditional friend, by providing a social connection for him with other kids, and by aiding his independence in the future. We hope that he will make our "new normal" less stressful for our family by being a bright spot in this murky world of cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy.

I realize that is a lot for one fluffy dog to manage. But, I have good reason to be optimistic. Though it is several months before we get to bring Tigger home, he has already brought together the love and support of our family and our friends, and has taught me a valuable lesson. You see, although the cost of a service animal is substantial, I found I couldn't bring myself to ask for help (despite the really cool magnets and buttons the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation sent us with Simon's adorable face on it). Every time I considered it, I kept thinking that despite the expense, we are so much better off than so many. I kept reminding myself that we are the "lucky" ones -- we have jobs, and benefits, and I know that I will manage no matter what. Maybe I was too humble, maybe I was too proud. Maybe I have always seen myself as someone who gives and was uncomfortable being in the place of one who needs.

Despite my poor grace, my parents immediately came forward. They were as excited as we were to find help for Simon, and as soon as they heard the word "deposit" they were there to assist and I knew not to argue. I know that Simon is theirs, too. Over the holidays, some of Simon's aunts and uncles, his entire kindergarten class, and some of our very good friends and a long-time friend of my parents made contributions to the "Tigger Fund," in unlooked-for but generous and very welcome gifts. Such a display of support for our family was the best Christmas present I could have ever received, and again, I gradually came to understand that Simon is theirs as well. That our family is bigger than I realized.

And, it is still growing. More folks from Simon's school have asked how they can help and even people at my mom's chiropractor have sent me checks. Last week, when I had dinner with a group of dear college friends and their spouses I was totally surprised -- they had called our trainer directly and gotten together to pay for Tigger's travel expenses. They also reached out to their friends and family and are even planning to redesign Noelles' Dogs website, so that in the future it will be easier for people to donate directly to help families.

Yesterday, when I spoke to Tina, the owner of Noelle's Dogs, she told me she has been amazed by the outpouring of support for Simon. She also told me that everyone she talked to was excited to help. That they love Simon, and that they love our family. I love them back, of course, I always have. Though I can't say I am amazed (I always knew I was surrounded by amazing people) I am completely overwhelmed by the generosity we have been shown.

Tigger has already given us a tremendous gift. He has provided a way for the people who love us to do something positive and concrete to help us protect our Simon, our family. He has shown me that accepting help isn't a weakness. Though he's just a twelve week old fluffly puppy working to master "lesson one," Tigger has already brought out the best in so many people, especially me.

This is one amazing dog.


  1. So excited for you guys! Can't wait till Tigger comes to bond with you!!

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  3. Hi
    We are considering using Noelle's company to train our current dog to become our daughters safety/service animal. I would appreciate any feedback/recommendations you could offer. If you have time would you e-mail me so I could learn more? thank you

  4. Hi Laura,

    We are looking at going through NDFH for a seizure response dog and want to do my due diligence. Can we talk about your experience?