A Boy’s Best Friend
What is a friend? A friend is someone that makes you feel happy and loved. Someone that you can play with and that will make you feel better when you need it. A friend is someone that has your back. I have written a lot about Matthew and his friends (buddies, as Matthew would say). What I haven’t written a lot about is Matthew’s “best friend”. She is a 4 year old service dog named Dori and she is amazing! Matthew’s friend, in every sense of the word. She played with him, she calmed him, and protected him when he needed her. Their relationship was something that was truly special.
I had thought about a service dog for Matthew for quite some time, though I didn’t really know much about them. It was always in the back of my mind as one of those things that we would one day get around to. It wasn’t until Matthew’s seizures started to get more frequent that I realized that, at the very least, I needed an extra set of eyes. When he was 6, he had a seizure while I was in the next room (for just a second to grab something that he needed). In the time it took me to go into the kitchen and fill a cup with water, he had seized and fallen head first into a potted plant in our family room. Though he came out of his seizure, no worse for wear, I felt terrible. In my mind, it was a “mother FAIL”. I should have been there. How could I have let this happen? No matter how many times my husband told me that it wasn’t my fault or that there was no way that I could have my eyes on him every second, I still blamed myself. I became even more vigilant (if that was even possible). Everything in the house started to suffer. Unless I was in the same room with Matthew, I couldn’t do anything. This included laundry, unloading the dishwasher, showering, using the bathroom, the list goes on and on.
Soon we put cameras up in our house. One in his bedroom and one in the family room (where he spent most of his time at home). The problem with that was, he was a little boy who got up the second I left the room. Before I was able to do what I needed, he was out of the camera view and I would have to run back to make sure that he was ok.
We needed another set of eyes! So the journey began. We chose to rescue our dog from the Humane Society of Charlotte (they were very helpful in guiding us to potential dogs that would be up to the task). We worked with a local trainer who specialized in training service dogs. Matthew got to name her, and she only narrowly escaped being named Kevin ;) And, he helped to train her. They were a perfect pair!
Before long, Dori was coming everywhere with me and Matthew, including shopping, the movies, doctors appointments, hospital stays, and she even spent some time at school with him. Not only did she let us know if Matthew was having a seizure, but often was able to alert us before it came (not all dogs are able to alert). And, she would stay with him until the seizure was over. She was able to find him if he got out of sight (at home as well as in public). She brought piece of mind for me and a best friend Matthew.