Category Archives: Cerebral Palsy

Assistance in the Rio Grande Valley and more

This is a message from our exceptionally brilliant and compassionate trainer, Jacqueline (Jackie). Her life’s passion is to help Veterans, and she asked us to post this for all Veterans, especially in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), if they need help.

I have been a graduate psychologist at the VA down here in the RGV. After working in 3 different VA health care systems, I have seen the great need for Veteran care and have seen both good (actually excellent) and bad ways VAs are run and treatment is provided. It is with an EXTREMELY saddened heart that I can no longer allow myself to provide a lower level of care to Veterans than what they deserve, nor be forced into functioning in a treatment setting that is providing unethical care.

I LOVE my work with Veterans and see such a huge need for this to continue, but as I leave, I also see several other amazing psychologists leaving as well due to the same challenges. I continue to see a need for Behavioral Health Care in the Rio Grande Valley, with Veterans and Civilians alike. After 11 years of schooling and 7 years providing Behavioral Health (BH) Services, I was completing my licensure requirements as a psychologist to provide the highest and most comprehensive options out there, however, despite the need for services in the RGV, I ran into several dead ends for finishing this last piece. However, I am willing to put my own final step on hold to help two communities (Veterans and anyone in the RGV) in need of BH services.

I hold a Masters Level License in the State of Texas that allows me to practice independently (but with some restrictions from what I would have had with my psychologist license and obviously at about 1/3-1/4 of the pay). I am hoping to make some things come together over the next month or two (and will probably be open to picking up random general labor work as my student loans have gone into effect and I incurred debt moving from Idaho to here), but am hoping to offer TeleHealth (similar to Skyping but in a much more secure system) and/or in home therapy/animal assisted-therapy services here in the RGV at hopefully a fraction of the cost of some other places (most likely on an income based sliding scale fee basis) since I will not be accepting insurance and I am wanting to reach a larger population of those in need.

That being said, minus the in-home piece, I am able to offer this TeleHealth service within the scope of my practice anywhere in the state of Texas. I am most wanting to reach Veterans as I know for many, wait times between treatment sessions is 2-3 months in several facilities throughout the state. However, I am also really wanting to service Civilians in the RGV and throughout Texas. I am NOT bilingual unfortunately, but have a considerable amount of understanding of the RGV culture, the Hispanic Culture, and the Texas Hispanic Culture.

For those of you who may know of people who may be able to benefit from this, please feel free to contact me. I will gladly share my extensive training and treatment experience with anyone who requests this, and am hoping to start this as an option for the community within the next two months.

Please contact me at: Jacqueline Kappelman

Lindsey has started

From our trainer Jackie, who currently lives in the Rio Grande Valley. She is starting to work with Lindsey, who is a 30 year-old young woman who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and depression. Lindsey does own her own dog, but knows he is not qualified to be a Service Dog. Lindsey has a difficult time getting up off of the couch and getting up off of the floor, if she has fallen. She usually has to get help from her boyfriend or a co- worker if she is at work. She is also very sensitive and uncomfortable having someone behind her or off to her left side. She is looking for a good mobility Service Dog, and one that can help do “covers” from behind and on her left side. Jackie writes:

“Lindsey and I started out with several phone conversations about her particular needs. Lindsey requested a meeting/consultation. We looked at the Available Assessed Dogs, and were considering Tango, but Tango’s foster did not think he would be a good mobility dog. Lindsey needs a tall, sturdy dog for mobility and for her anxiety. I met her other dog, and assessed his interactions with myself and my own SD, Diesel, to determine how he would respond to larger dogs. The response was positive, so I put the word out down here what I was looking for yesterday for her in a Service Dog, and currently have 2 potential dogs that I will follow up with for Lindsey.”

The Right Dog For The Right Family

A beautiful write-up from our trainer, Pat, who is working with 7 year-old Lisa. Lisa’s mother wrote that young Lisa suffers from a number of diagnoses, including epilepsy secondary to brain malformation , dysphasia, polymicrogyria, incontinence, cortical dysplasia, extrapyramidal cerebral palsy, microcephaly, sleep disorder, congenital encephalopathy, aggression, is non-verbal, and functions intellectually at the rate of a 2 year-old. She also has many ABILITIES and can be so loving if her behaviors don’t get in the way….one of the main reasons we need a service dog.”

“Lisa is a beautiful and charming seven year old who has found her outlet to the rest of the world. Terrified of all dogs large and small, Lisa was an unlikely match for any dog. But Nina, a little Yorkie mix who had avoided all other human contact that day at the adoption event, walked right up to Lisa, and the two instantly created a special bond! In the weeks that Nina has been with Lisa’s family, Lisa’s outbursts and tantrums have declined in frequency and severity. Nina lays on Lisa’s lap even through a tantrum, even though Lisa sometimes doesn’t want her there because she wants to have her tantrum. Nina just holds tight and rides the storm through, and Lisa calms so much faster because of her! Lisa’s disabilities prevent her from communicating normally, but she will pat her lap and Nina jumps up. Today, I would swear that Lisa actually said the word “Nina”, but sadly Mom Erica didn’t hear it to verify my ears. There are so many examples that Erica told of to show how positive an effect Nina has had on Lisa.

Today was SDE’s first introduction to Lisa and her dog Nina, and the tiny 9 lb dog was so afraid of the leash that she hid under the furniture. But she will eventually lay down on the floor and crawl out from her hiding spot, and cuddles with even a stranger. Play with her, and she happily trots around with the leash gently held in my hand. Ignore her, and she quietly sits by my feet with big black eyes pleadingly asking for attention. I fully accepted Nina as Lisa’s Service Dog candidate. No other dog could be better suited to serving Lisa’s needs. To watch them together is to see a human-canine relationship that any parent would love for their child.

Through our training, Nina will learn to play fetch, and will in turn teach Lisa to throw a ball. Nina will learn to walk nicely on a leash, and will in turn teach Lisa the joy of walking her best friend. Nina already knows how to calm Lisa, giving her the potential to go places and do things that she couldn’t do before. Though it may take some time, Nina’s goal is to pass the Public Access Test. No less would suffice, because Nina has stepped into training for her purpose in life… Lisa’s Service Dog.”

Erica, Lisa’s mother, wrote this beautiful note back to trainer, Pat:

“I can’t wait!! We are all so excited! My job and my life is for Lisa and of course my entire gang here, but I do put a lot of dedication into getting everything I can for Lisa and doing everything I can to help her be as functional a person as her little heart, brain, and body will allow.

It was so great to meet you and see the love and dedication you put into these cases. We seem to have found the right dog for the right family, and the right trainer to help dog and family work you together toward something that will amaze just about everyone who knows Lisa! I’m writing this and crying like a baby to even fathom the things Lisa may be able to do someday just because of Nina. I imagine she’ll blurt out some more words and then we might have to have a party!

Again, thanks for choosing us (a rescue dog family) to work with. We’re ready!

Emileigh visits Disneyland!

Look at this remarkable article regarding our dear former client, Emileigh!!!!! We were training with Emileigh and her mother, Kelly, until our former trainer in Houston had to go elsewhere due to changes. But we have been following lovely Emileigh and her search for the perfect SDIT after she had a few sessions learning about SDs with us – and now she found a beautiful Labradoodle that will become her SD!!!! What a remarkable family – and we are all praying and wishing for happiness for the entire Marsh family!!!

Cypress girl gets her wish to visit Disneyland

Travis and Teddy

From trainer Beverly, who is working with 17 year-old Travis, a brilliant young man with Cerebral Palsy who is wheelchair-bound and cannot speak, and his SDIT, Teddy!

“We worked with Teddy to get him used to going up and down on the elevators, to wait for Travis to go before getting up and trying to leave when the doors open, and waiting for others to enter or exit before moving. Teddy did a great job, and stayed right next to Travis’s chair. We also worked on getting Teddy to sit whenever Travis stops and makes the chair “beep.” Teddy did well with this.

Their homework is to work on “Watch Me” so Teddy will focus on Travis and not be so distracted by people and his surroundings. Teddy and Travis have an absolutely amazing bond.”

Travis and the AMAZING SDIT Teddy

From tireless trainer Beverly, who is working with 17 year-old Travis, who has CP and is confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak. He is AMAZING with SDIT Teddy!!!

“Worked with Travis (using the “voice commands” from his iPad) and Teddy on “stay” and “place” (for use at restaurants or other public locations when he needs to go to a specific spot.) Mother Meridan says that Teddy is doing fantastic waiting to get in and out of the van, heeling in public, going to Travis’s school, and attending hospital visits! The family is doing a fabulous job at training Teddy and Travis and Teddy are both amazingly intelligent. We reviewed what Teddy will need to know to pass the Public Access Test with Meridian and Travis.

The family will be on vacation for the next 2 weeks and will return to training once they come back. Teddy will be going with them and even has a “dog house” in their hotel room! We will discuss how it went and any issues that need to be addressed at that time.”

A Better Training Day

From trainer Letty, who is working very hard with dear Brayton, who has multiple disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, and his SD, Midas. The last session was difficult, but this one went very well! Letty writes:

” We had a great training with Brayton and SD Midas today! We spent half our time at Kohl’s, and then spent a little time at Wendy’s. At Kohl’s, we worked on gait and controlled heeling. Brayton was able to walk between two SDs (my SD, Bentley) while maintaining control over his SD Midas with out stumbling or tripping! While walking slowly, Brayton does a wonderful job!

At Wendy’s, while SD Midas was under the table and Brayton was enjoying a Frosty, I was able to look at a flip book that Brayton’s amazing mom made. In it, she has pictures and an easy explanation of cues and reactions that Brayton uses for SD Midas. This flip folder was created to help Brayton’s teachers easily understand SD Midas and help with Brayton’s daily functioning.”


We are in “conversations” with Brayton’s school, Judson ISD, because, while they are excited to have the “first” SD at their school, they have also written that they feel they should not be expected to give queues to Brayton to help him with Midas. Not only does Brayton have CP, but he has limited vision and some learning disabilities. Of course, Service Dog Express feels that Judson ISD should be able to help Brayton with Midas, especially now that Brayton’s mother has written a detailed description of how to help facilitate this process in the special classes Brayton attends. So far, they have written that they feel they should not have to help with these queues. Well, that doesn’t sit well with Service Dog Express! So, we will be having a meeting on Tuesday with many of the staff at Judson ISD – I will most likely have to be on teleconference, and trainer Letty as well – but if they want the “honor” of having the first Service Dog to attend their school, they MUST be willing to assist Brayton with his queues for Midas. It’s their job. Please wish us luck!!! Brayton deserves this!!!!

Difficult training day with Brayton and SD Midas

From trainer Letty, who is working with 16 year-old Brayton. Brayton is intellectually disabled, legally blind, has ataxic cerebral palsy, speech language delay and tends to become anxious with new environments and/or people, causing him to be slightly angry. He is extremely loving and affectionate and seeks physical input to ensure security.

“Today was a difficult training day with Brayton and SD Midas. Brayton was having a very off day, and really wasn’t in the mood to train. We pushed through for about thirty minutes before Brayton’s mood got the better of him. The good thing that came out of all of this is that Brayton turned to Midas for comfort! He laid down on the floor next to him and hugged and loved all over his best friend/ SD. It was truly a beautiful sight!”


Brayton and SD Midas Update

Service Dog ExpressFrom trainer Letty, who has been training with 16 year-old Brayton, who is intellectually disabled, legally blind, has ataxic cerebral palsy, and speech language delay. He and his mother are working with Letty consistently.

“We had a wonderful training at Target. Brayton walked around with minimal cues with SD Midas. The only thing that required cues were walking too fast and hand position of the leash. I came up with a fix for the leash by combining both the short and longer ones together. It worked beautifully. Brayton was able to walk with his wonderful SD with little to no cueing.”