Our sweet sunshine boy, Cooper, is a curly-haired, blue-eyed beautiful soul with a diagnosis of Autism (level 3) and Mixed receptive expressive disorder. He was born prematurely during the start of the pandemic and stayed in the NICU for a month, a fighter from the get-go. We always knew Coop was delayed but being our sixth child and a preemie, we didn’t think much of it. Until he started to not respond to his name. It was first thought that there was a hearing issue, possible hearing loss, so we did the surgery, retested him and his hearing was perfect, but nothing changed with our sweet boy. We then knew, along with many other signs, that something more was going on. In May 2022, Cooper was officially diagnosed, and our lives have been on a different path ever since. Every day we watch him try to understand a world not designed for him and struggle to adapt to it. What has always worked for our other five children, doesn’t work for him and as parents, we want to do everything possible to understand him and make his life easier.
4 Paws came into our lives in the oddest way…through cheerleading. We had been doing research for months and trying to decide if this was right for our family and I prayed for a sign to lead me. Of all the dogs from 4 Paws placed in the US, what are the chances that one of those dogs ends up in our town, at our cheerleading gym, on our child’s team?! That was my sign. And with some encouragement from that 4 Paws family, we haven’t looked back since and we trust that we will be able to pull off this process with the support of our family, friends, community, and even strangers to come together to help this precious little boy. His service dog will aid us and Cooper in: Tracking (Cooper has elopement issues, meaning he runs away very quickly), Tethering, and Behavior Disruption (help to calm him when he is having difficult moments).
We are not looking for a handout but a “paw-up” to help our son’s life be a little easier as he navigates this world. I heard a mom on a 4 Paws graduation Facebook Live say something the other day and it’s stuck with me ever since…” This dog may be my child’s only chance at having a best friend” and what more can we ask than for our Coop to have a shot of a furever best friend.
Donate to Cooper’s dog below
Training a service dog to meet our child’s requirements can be very costly. On average it costs between $40,000-60,000 to raise, train, and place a service dog at 4 Paws for Ability. While 4 Paws for Ability fundraises to help cover a significant portion of this cost, families are tasked with raising $20,000 of that amount or $23,000 if receiving a poodle, doodle or papillon. We hope that we can receive assistance from our beloved family and friends to help make our service dog dream a reality.