My Daughter’s Service Dog Is Helping Her Through Her Chronic Illness


Courtesy of Cara Wells

Four years in the past, my daughter developed a uncommon situation often known as autoimmune encephalitis, or “AE” for brief. Any time she will get sick, fairly than making antibodies that struggle an infection, her physique makes antibodies that assault her mind. Doctors have described it as “her brain on fire.” It’s as merciless and debilitating because it sounds. She’s seized to the purpose of lifelessness extra occasions than I can rely, is reliant on a feeding tube for diet and incessantly finds herself unable to stroll or discuss. Yet, nonetheless she smiles. Her situation doesn’t have a remedy, however its signs are managed with fistfuls of capsules, and common chemo and blood product infusions.

Time and time once more I’ve pleaded with the universe for a break. I’ve begged and bartered with each increased energy you may identify. But it was in useless. I couldn’t change what her physique was doing. Then, in December of 2018 I acquired an electronic mail that two donors have been prepared to pay the steadiness of a service canine for her in full. They gave her the information Christmas morning and from that day ahead I noticed life in her eyes.

In early 2019, Gracie was introduced with profiles of two pups. And after reviewing each with tears in her eyes, she declared of 1, “that’s my Auggie.” And from that second ahead their hearts belonged to at least one one other. Auggie had quite a bit to be taught earlier than she may come dwelling. It wasn’t simply instructions like “sit and stay,” or her “service task” of seizure alert, but in addition methods to behave in public. There are excessive expectations on a canine who accompanies their particular person all over the place, and it’s time consuming to show them. Gracie stored in contact with Auggie via FaceTime, care packages, and letters, and the 2 met for the primary time a yr later, in January.

Courtesy of Cara Wells

Their bond was immediate. Auggie knew Gracie was her woman, and Gracie knew Auggie was the pal she’d waited ceaselessly for. They had simply 24 hours collectively, however you’ll have thought they shared a lifetime. Auggie checked out Gracie with stars in her eyes, and Gracie at Auggie as if she’d hung the moon. Auggie dutifully alerted to seizures, Gracie was beneficiant with the snuggles and whereas the world spun round them, they have been solely in tune to one another. The goodbye on the finish of their go to was exhausting however the hope we each walked away with having seen and skilled their connection made it value it.

In spring, Gracie’s well being crashed. At 13 years outdated she was simply 57 kilos. Her coronary heart fee was low and her liver and thyroid operate under expectation. Her physique was drained, and seemingly making an attempt to surrender. A feeding tube went in. Life was sustained, however its high quality was poor. Gracie had fought lengthy and exhausting, and easily had no extra to provide. The outlook was bleak.

Then, Auggie got here dwelling.

Courtesy of Cara Wells

Auggie introduced pleasure, inspiration and objective. She introduced out one of the best in Gracie, simply by being close to her. Gracie fought exhausting to talk clearly so Auggie may perceive her. But when she couldn’t, Auggie by no means strayed from job. For her woman she’d do something. When Gracie’s muscle mass harm, she didn’t resign herself to a wheelchair. She used it when she wanted to and doubled down on bodily remedy to strengthen them once more, understanding her woman wanted her. She cried with ache as she stood as much as play fetch, however she pushed via it, with renewed objective. And with that objective every single day she grew a bit stronger.

Her seizures didn’t cease, however they grew to become much less debilitating. Most occasions Auggie can inform her earlier than they happen, permitting her to get to a secure area, minimizing the methods they harm her. When they’re triggered and Auggie can’t alert earlier than, she is ready to get somebody who may also help. This shortens the length of the seizures and has executed wonders for restoration. But, most likely essentially the most superb factor on this regard is that Auggie’s coaching has modified Gracie’s consolation stage, giving her confidence to do extra issues independently.

Today Gracie is twice the dimensions she was in March. Her physique and thoughts are stronger, and her will dramatically completely different. Auggie has given her a second probability at life. Together they set targets that she as soon as noticed as unattainable, and collectively they crush them. Gracie, a woman who was as soon as advised she would by no means learn once more, is now an honor roll scholar and he or she and Auggie are co-owners of an Etsy store, and budding philanthropists with their income.

Auggie hasn’t given Gracie ceaselessly, however she’s made the ceaselessly she has worthwhile.

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