While over 120 families started their service dog journey in 2023, other families welcomed a four-legged friend with a 4 Paws predecessor. Josiah is ten years old and lives with a genetic mutation that causes conditions such as delayed speech, hypotonia, autonomic dysfunction, and visual impairment, among others.
“Spad changed our lives completely, making it possible to go in public again,” Josiah’s mom Rachel remembers of their first service dog, Spad. She says after Spad passed away, “it was so noticeable how much Josiah felt that loss.”
Then, with the new year, Snorkel stepped up to fills Spad’s shoes. Rachel says “tethering and behavior disruptions have helped Josiah gain confidence and security, and he’s just a whole new kid. With Snorkel by his side, he can do so much more.”
Josiah faced the inconceivable daily challenges of his life with Spad, and now Snorkle, by his side; two service dogs with “personalities as big as our boy,” Rachel says. “The dog might be the first thing kids notice about him, but after that initial moment they learn that Josiah is wickedly funny, kind, and helpful, with a big heart.”
As Josiah and Snorkel get closer to their one-year anniversary as a service dog team, his mom says, “Without these dogs, we would still be trapped at home. Instead, these dogs are lifelines for our kids and give them access to a world that often refuses to accommodate their needs.”
“Josiah has thrived, grown in all skill areas, and has formed lasting friendships with peers.”