"Hunter" & Gabby
Hunter is truly a godsend to Gabby and to our family as a whole. Gabby will be nine years old this weekend is now falling asleep and staying asleep in her own bed by herself all night with trusty Hunter by her side. The multiple episodes of night waking, sleep walking, talking and night time anxiety are gone. Gabby is much more focused and in tune with her environment when she’s with Hunter during the day. She has significant hypotonia and we’ve noticed improvement in her gait as well as her spatial awareness when she’s walking with Hunter. Being able to rough house with Hunter at home or the park helps with her sensory regulation. Having Hunter as an “anchor” helps with minimizing sensory overload in crowded, noisy or visually stimulating environments and puts her in a more relaxed state. We’ve even noticed better attentiveness when Hunter attends her OT appointments twice per week. We’re currently targeting social interaction with peers. Hunter is quite the kid magnet and we’re already making progress! Hunter is such a smart, sweet boy, so well behaved, patient, tolerant and fun-loving too! Gabby’s dad was just saying how it’s already difficult to remember life without him and I’d agree! He’s the perfect partner and friend for Gabby and it is our hope that as she continues to bond with him she will develop the confidence to establish stronger relationships with human friends as well!Other updates,We took Hunter on to a trip to the dog park this past Sunday and he had a great time running in the wooded area and playing with the other dogs. It was nice to see him really cut loose! I’m posting some pictures on the Custom Canines Community Page on FB. I can’t figure out how to compress them to get them to you via email. I hope you’re able to use one or two of them. It’s very difficult to get natural smiles of Gabby captured on camera. No problem to do it when she’s with Hunter!!
~All the Best, Heather~
"Soldier" & Shannon
About 8 years ago, I was selling Scentsy and wanted to do a fundraiser for a local organization that helped Autistic children like my step-daughter, Isabel. I reached out to Nicole at Custom Canines, and she said every dime makes a difference and would love that. Fast forward a few weeks to a rather lackluster fundraiser, Nicole invited me to a puppy-raiser event to see what the organization does. I have never looked back. I began working with CCSDA to raise funds and awareness for their Autism program and the other programs they offered.
I am a disabled Veteran, and Nicole perhaps saw the signs of me needing a dog before I did. I had never thought of it or considered it for myself, thinking that there are so many other Veterans that need the assistance more. Then launched the Owner Trainer Academy, and I decided to take the leap before Nicole pushed me off the cliff. I purchased Soldier in January of 2016 and introduced Nicole to him the very next day. He started training and changing my life immediately. I have never looked back and I have never been (aside from my family and husband) so thankful for something in my life. Soldier has opened doors that I forever thought were shut in my ability to be in large public spaces, overcome hearing challenges, and allow me to feel safe and protected no matter where I am. He has accompanied me to concerts, professional presentations, meetings, work (on a daily basis), and served as an ambassador to show others there is no stereotype for a Service Dog - just like there is no stereotype for what a disabled person looks like. Not all wounds are visible and not all Service Dogs are labs or shepards.
I am thankful daily for that google search that lead me to Custom Canines and Nicole. She is a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration for anyone inside or outside of the organization. To say she is enhancing lives is an understatement - she is forever changing lives with her heart, passion, and dedication to making each life touched by CCSDA be the best life possible. She has certainly done that for me - and so many others.
Love forever with hugs and paws -