The reason to get involved with 4 Paws for Ability can vary from person to person, whether as a client, a donor, or in Heather and Todd’s case, to find a distraction for their daughter, Amelia. “She had an injury and surgery that resulted in her developing CRPS, a condition causing extreme burning pain and muscle contractions.”
CRPS, or complex regional pain syndrome, causes bouts of excessive and prolonged pain in certain areas of the body, oftentimes with intense swelling and inflammation.
Her mom, Heather, said “my niece was waiting to get a 4 Paws service dog and told us they needed puppy raisers. We thought it would distract her from her pain and give her something fun to focus on.”
Working as volunteers and living with their newfound health struggles, Amelia’s conditions worsened. “She started to develop severe anxiety and other health conditions. Her foot would lock up and she would lose her balance and almost fall. She had anxiety attacks that lasted for long periods of time.”
With more health struggles, also came discomfort. “Amelia wouldn’t go anywhere without me. She didn’t want to be home alone and wouldn’t go anywhere with her friends unless I was there. She was afraid she would pass out and no one know. Her doctor told us we should get her a service dog.”
In 2019, after raising eight Service Dogs in Training, Amelia Brinker was placed with Twist, a 2-year-old standard poodle, in the April 2019 class. Four years later, life has changed. “She has become so much more independent. She will go places with her friends and stay home alone. I remember the first time she went with her friends for the afternoon a few weeks after she got him and I just cried knowing that her life was changed.”
With life seemingly settled, Covid-19 presented new challenges, all that Twist was trained for. “During the covid restrictions, I was not allowed to go to her doctor’s appointments with her because she was over 18. The first time she went in with Twist alone she told me she started to have an anxiety attack in the elevator and he did behavior disruption and she was able to focus and go in alone,” Heather said, “It was such a comfort for me to know she could do anything because of him.”