A truly amazing update from our trainer, Kendra, who is working with beautiful Cole. Cole’s dear mother wrote:
“My 17 year old daughter, Cole, was diagnosed with severe social anxiety disorder when she was 14 years old. Once we understood the disorder, it became clear that it had started around age 11. Cole is high functioning around adults, but started having panic attacks around her peer group. She worked intensively with 3 professionals and has made great progress, but still has a ways to go. Cole lost her Dad to melanoma when she was 6 years old. That same year we lost her only uncle and grandpa. All the men in our life within 6 months. Cole was bullied at school during this time. Although she handled it well – she started showing signs of PTSD and OCD. In hind sight, Cole’s Dad suffered from social anxiety and some OCD too. Cole thinks everyone in her life is going to die any time she is not with them. Since I am the only one left – she still has anxiety if I leave the house without her or vice versa. If she goes in a public place and it is all adults, she is well-spoken and an impressive individual. If there are any pre-teen or teenagers, she will either have to leave or go into a state where she can’t even pick a chair to sit in. All the animals on our block come to see her daily, and one neighbor’s cat has moved into our yard for the past 3 years. Cole has a relationship with animals and any other living creature that is AMAZING.
I believe a Service Dog would be a critical component in helping Cole be able to become independent and be able to take college classes and interact in public. She needs to be able to become confident so that she can avoid panic attacks in public or work through them with her Service Dog the way she does with me. It is heart breaking to watch such an incredibly kind, intelligent and sensitive person not be able to pursue any interests or activities outside of our home independently.”
Well, dear Kendra, in Houston, has helped sweet Cole find the perfect dog for Cole! She writes: “I had the pleasure of working with Cole and her mom, Sherri today. After spending many minutes on the phone trying to find the perfect dog, we had a meet and greet today so I could see if the dog they found was finally the one. The dog was in a foster home with the greater Houston German Shepard Rescue; her name is Aurora. When we arrived, Aurora was in the kennel and she was barking because she was so excited to see Cole again. Cole and her mom had already met with Aurora when they went through the approval process. The foster mom let Aurora out of the crate and she ran to Cole! She was SO happy to see Cole again!
Aurora already knows many commands, such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, and “shake”. I was able to touch all parts of Aurora’s body without any problems. I also was able to touch her mouth and all four paws. I made a loud noise behind her back and all she did was turn her head and look at me. She did awesome! After the evaluation, I went with the family to the pet store to help them get the items needed for Aurora. Once we had those items, we were able to go back to the foster and pick up the Aurora.
During this transition, Cole experiences a full panic attack and could not enter the home, so her mother and I went inside and brought Aurora to Cole. Aurora acted like she has been doing Service Dog work her whole life! She immediately leaned into Cole and licked her. Within a matter of minutes, the panic attack had passed and Cole was able to come inside. While her mom was signing the final papers for adoption, I worked with the team on walking in a “heel” and the proper placement. Aurora was already getting better after just a few minutes! After the adoption was final, I followed them to their house to help them get settled in. There, we put the kennel together and worked on some separation anxiety that the fosters had told us about when she is in the kennel. We worked on this until Cole was confident that tonight would go smoothly. We also worked on Aurora leaving the cat alone. Cole was having severe anxiety about the cat and the dog. The cat has been with her for 15 years! But it didn’t take long for the cat to establish her personal space. We also went over a feeding schedule, and got Aurora to sit while Cole put the food bowl down and release her to eat. We talk about so many things and Cole took to everything like a champ!
I know that Cole and Aurora are the perfect team, and I look forward to working with them again.”